Ian Kennedy flirted with 2-out danger in the 1st, giving up a double to Jose Altuve and walking Carlos Correa but escaped. In the 2nd, he wasn’t so lucky. Brian McCann doubled with one out. Yuli Gurriel walked. Old friend Nori Aoki singled home McCann. But he did his former team a solid, running into the second out of the inning. Unfortunately, Kennedy could not take advantage of it as Springer singled home Gurriel. Springer kindly was caught stealing for the 3rd out of the inning. So even when the run into 2 outs in the inning, the Astros still score a pair. It's nice to come in with a 10 game winning streak.
Even after a scoreless third, Kennedy was at 62 pitches through the first third of the game. In the 4th, Marwin Gonzalez worked a leadoff walk on 9 pitches. McCann deposited the 10th pitch of the inning a few feet short of the fountains: 4-0 Astros.
The Royals answered in the bottom of the inning, however, ending their 12-inning scoreless drought. With two outs and Eric Hosmer on 2nd, Mike Moustakas worked a four pitch walk, the first in the game issued by Houston starter Mike Fiers. Brandon Moss doubled just past a diving Aoki, plating the Royals first run. Alcides Escobar laid down a nice bunt towards third and Moustakas scored as the throw was not in time at 1st. Esky stole second but, with the tying runs in scoring position, Alex Gordon flew out to center to end the inning.
Kennedy's night was done after a 1-2-3 inning in the 5th, his only of the night. His line: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 4 K, and 1 HR. Matt Strahm threw a scoreless 6th that ended on a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play. He, Peter Moylan, and Joakim Soria kept Houston’s potent offense at bay through 8.
The Royals, unfortunately, just could not catch up. They wasted a golden opportunity in the 6th. Hosmer singled and Salvador Perez reached on an error putting runners at 1st and 3rd with nobody out. That ended Fiers’s night but KC could not score. Jorge Bonifacio hit his 8th homer of the year in the 7th to bring the Royals to within 1. But they got no closer when Moustakas was stranded at 2nd in the 8th.
Against Kelvin Herrera in the 9th, the Astros tacked on some insurance. Alex Bregman singled on the first pitch he saw. McCann reached on an error by Escobar. And Gurriel cleared the bases with his 6th home run of the season. For those keeping score at home, that brings Herrera's ERA to 4.30 on the season.
Bottom 9, there was a little drama as Alex Gordon, looking like Lo, Danger Ox of old, roped a double to right. Whit Merrifield came up, needing something to extend his hitting streak to 20 games. On the 7th pitch of his battle with Michael Feliz, Houston’s 5th pitcher on the night, he struck out.
So the 4 game series with the best team in the league starts with a thud. Tomorrow night, Jake Junis takes on David Paulino in a battle of pitchers who were in AAA a couple of weeks ago.