Nate Karns' starting debut didn't begin much better than his relieving debut with the Royals; the first pitch he unleashed was launched into the Astros’ bullpen by their starting centerfielder, George Springer. Karns then got two outs then allowed back to back singles to Carlos Correa and Brian McCann; fortunately, Correa tried to go to third on McCann's single and Mike Moustakas placed his foot perfectly to block his slide while Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar combined a pair of perfect throws to gun him down. Karns received similar aid from Alex Gordon the next inning when the left fielder gunned down Evan Gattis trying to achieve what initially appeared to be a perfectly normal double on a scorcher down the line.
Salvador Perez, in case you're curious, is still hotter than the sun; he hit a home run for his record fourth straight game to tie the game in the second.
Things were quiet after that until the fifth inning when Paulo Orlando was beaned on the foot. He was running when Alcides Escobar hit a ball up the middle which put men at first and third. With all the speed on the bases Raul Mondesi decided to try to bunt for a single. Astros first-baseman Marwin Gonzalez fielded the ball cleanly and tagged Mondesi before throwing home just a little bit too late to catch Paulo Orlando to put the Royals ahead 2-1.
Karns, staked to his first lead as a Royal, threw eight straight balls to the Astros 7 and 8 hitters in the bottom of the fifth. With everyone everywhere assuming that Nori Aoki would bunt the runners over the Japanese left fielder chose to swing away and hit a grounder to Mondesi who, perhaps inspired by Gonzalez, tagged out the runner and fired to first to complete the double play. Karns then convinced Springer to hit a high fly ball to left to end the threat.
Moose repaid the efforts of Karns leading off the sixth inning by winning his second Sonic Slam inning for $300 for the second time this season.
In the seventh Travis Wood, who had come in to ensure the left-handed McCann was retired the inning before, was allowed to pitch to a series of righties. The inevitable happened. He walked the leadoff hitter and then hung a curveball to Marwin Gonzalez who deposited his good fortune in the Crawford boxes to tie the game. Ned Yost finally came to his senses and replaced Wood when Springer came to bat with...Chris Young. Young got a...ground ball out? Is that even possible? Either way, he escaped the inning with no further damage.
Chris Young also pitched the eighth, navigating into and out of trouble without allowing a run despite a lackadaisical throw by Mondesi which prevented the Royals from escaping the inning a batter sooner.
Brandon Moss, with two outs in the ninth, finally joined the club of "Royals with hits in 2017" and chose to join the club of, "Royals with home runs in 2017" at the same time, golfing a "Circle of Death" changeup into the Astros bullpen to give the lead back to the good guys.
Kelvin Herrera came in to pitch the ninth and got the first out on a scorching line drive to Alcides Escobar. Unfortunately he left a slider where Jake Marisnick, who had just entered the game as a defensive replacement in center, could belt it just inside the foul pole and just over the wall in left field, forcing Herrera to blow his first save opportunity of the season. This led to extra innings.
Soria pitched the tenth and eleventh innings, and was personally involved in every single play: he fielded a groundball out, fielded an infield single, fielded the beginning of a 1-6-3 double play in the tenth. In the eleventh he walked Gattis, then fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt by Yulieski Gurriel and fired to second to get Gattis out, then struck out the remaining two batters in the inning.
Matt Strahm came in for the Royals twelfth inning, but was saddled with Cheslor Cuthbert at second base after the Corn Island native pinch hit for Mondesi in the bottom of the eleventh. Strahm made some good pitches but was hamstrung by a clearly uncomfortable Nicaraguan second baseman before his control eventually got away from him.
George Springer singled to Cuthbert who bobbled the ball a bit to open the inning, then Alex Bregman bunted him over after Hosmer bobbled a ball before he could throw to Cuthbert. Jose Altuve was intentionally walked and Carlos Correa hit what appeared to be an inning-ending groundball for a double play, but Moose’s throw was a touch high and Cuthbert had to focus on making sure he got the out at second. Strahm endured a long battle with McCann before walking him and then finally walked Gattis with the bases loaded on a 3-2 pitch to finish the game.
The bullpen wasted a very good game from Nate Karns along with a trio of home runs from the offense and some very good defensive performances early on. Strahm, who very few predicted might struggle a bit this year, has now walked 5 batters plus 2 intentional walks and allowed 7 runs in 1.1 innings.
Still, while this is the start of the season and everything is blown out of proportion, the Royals just finished a 2-4 road trip - there are much worse possible results. Tomorrow will be the Royals' 2017 home opener against the Oakland Athletics. Ian Kennedy (0-1 5.40 ERA) will do battle with Jharel Cotton (0-1 10.38 ERA) as KC looks to get well at home.