It was a lopsided matchup last season between the Royals and Astros. As Kansas City claimed one of five games, the 104-loss team played exactly how many expected them to against a division winner. Now with both clubs facing off for the first time in 2019, the Royals looked to match the win total of last years’ team in game one. Combining for five home runs, Houston claimed the opener in a tight one, 6-4.
Sending Jakob Junis to the bump, who came off an outing in which he surrendered two runs in 6 1⁄3 innings, the Illinois native didn’t start as well as Kansas City hoped this time out. Leaving a hanging fastball to Astros lead-off man, George Springer, Houston jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead before some found their seats. The next inning, the Astros followed up the same with a second lead-off homer, this time off the bat of shortstop Carlos Correa. Ultimately scoring one run in each of the first three innings, Junis was fortunate to escape without any further damage from a star-studded lineup in a hitter-friendly park.
On the other side, right-hander Gerrit Cole had few problems maneuvering through the Royals lineup during the first three. However in the top of the fourth, a 39-mph blooper over the bag at third by Alex Gordon was followed by the ninth home-run of the year for the American League’s top hitter in Hunter Dozier. Closing the gap to 3-2, Junis settled down into a groove. In the ensuing inning, Adalberto Mondesi clobbered a 98 mph belt-high fastball from Cole to dead-center with a runner on. The ball was estimated at 443 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph. Taking the lead for the first time in the evening, Junis worked his second straight scoreless inning to shift the momentum heavily in favor in the visitors.
Working into the sixth inning holding the slim lead, Junis couldn’t put away Houston catcher Robinson Chirinos on a 2-2 count. Credit to the hitter, Chirinos poked a well-located fastball into the first rows of the short porch in right field. Unable to record the final two outs, manager Ned Yost turned to Scott Barlow for the second straight day. For Barlow, his dominance continued as he fired 1.2 scoreless innings while striking out two. Confronting the Astros bullpen in the final two innings, Kansas City had the opportunity to cash in during the top of the eighth. With the bases loaded and two out, Kelvin Gutierrez failed to plate any off of reliever Hector Rondon.
For game two, the Royals will turn to Danny Duffy, who makes his third start on the year. Houston will give the nod to Collin McHugh. First pitch is set for 7:10 CT.