After last night’s win, the Royals were looking to double their win tally for 2017.
Both teams aces were on the hill: Danny Duffy for the Royals and Dallas Keuchel for the Astros.
The expected pitching duel mostly materialized with the game 2-1 through 7 before they gave way to the bullpens.
In Duffy’s 7, he gave up 2 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks with 3 strikeouts. He was dominant in the first two innings before being touched up for a Brian McCann homer in the bottom of the 3rd.
In the 4th, Duffy walked Carlos Correa with 1 out and old friend Carlos Beltran singled to third to put two on. Yulieski Gurriel hit one up the middle and the play the ensued was, well, ugly. Christian Colon dived and grabbed it but tried to flip it, um, in the vicinity of Alcides Escobar. Everyone was safe. Marwin Gonzalez singled to left, scoring Correa. But that was all the Astros would get as Brian McCann grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Duffy was also helped by a double play in the 7th. With two on, George Springer grounded to Cheslor Cuthbert. Jake Marisnick swung a bit wide of the bag and, on the review, both runners were called out. It was the second time New York sided with the Royals on the night, too, as the Astros challenged a pickoff in the 5th that was not overturned. Duffy's night was done at an efficient 87 pitches. Of note: THE ROYALS GAVE UP NO RUNS IN THE 7TH TONIGHT (for the first time all season).
That said, 2015 Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel was even better. In his 7 frames, he yielded merely 2 hits and a walk, striking out four. The Royals only real opportunity was in the 5th. Chelsor Cuthbert in against the lefty homered to lead off the inning and cut the lead in half. On a Paulo Orlando squibber, Keuchel slipped off the mound and then rushed a bad throw over to first. Orlando motored to second with nobody out. Escobar sacrificed him to third. However, Colon grounded right back to Keuchel, the three time gold glover, who did not miss this time. Drew Butera, spelling Salvador Perez (who DH'd), grounded out to end the inning.
But then the 8th happened. As was noted repeatedly in the game thread and in the minds of Royals fans everywhere, I wonder if the Astros are less than fond of Royals in the 8th inning (insert Tony Sipp gif here). Keuchel gave way to Luke Gregerson.
Just remember this inning started with a lead-off walk by Escobar
Yup, that happened. On six pitches.
On the next pitch, Mike Moustakas, pinch hitting for Colon, oppo-Moosed a single. Raul Mondesi ran for him.
One pitch later, Butera sacrificed both over. Second and third with one out. How were the Royals going to not score this time? Enter Lo, Danger Ox.
After taking a ball, Alex Gordon lined a double to right, over George Springer who appeared to both be playing in and shifted to left. Four pitches, three batters, two runs, and a 3-2 lead for the Royals.
Lorenzo Cain fouled off his first pitch before lacing a single to right on the second. Gordon scored and it was 4-2.
Eric Hosmer watched a slider for ball one before crushing the second to the right center field stands. 6-2.
Salvador Perez? Also watched a slider before smashing one into the Crawford Boxes. 7-2 on the back-to-back jacks.
So in the span of 7 pitches, the Royals scored 6 runs, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 7-2 lead. Does this mean #RoyalsDevilMagic is back?
Peter Moylan got the Astros 1-2-3 in the 8th. Mike Minor was a bit shaky in the 9th, giving up a run, but the Royals had more than enough insurance. Final: 7-3 KC. Duffy gets the win, Gregerson the loss.
Royals go for a sweep tomorrow and a chance to level out the season record at 3-3.
(Ed note: I should be there in person tomorrow, barring tiny human issues. Huzzah!)