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Fillmyer gives up late home run, Royals lose to Astros, 4-1

They nearly made it out of the ninth.

MLB: Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City welcomed the AL West power in Houston for a three-game series starting on Friday evening. Facing off against Gerrit Cole, the Royals struggled to take advantage of some chances early on. Unable to keep the Astros hitters’ in check as well, Kansas City was doomed late by the long-ball, falling to Houston, 4-1.

In game 148 of 162, the Royals sent out Danny Duffy in hopes of emulating similar success from his first outing against the Astros on May 7th. In that start, the left-hander tossed 6 23 innings while allowing two runs on six hits. Kansas City went on to bludgeon Houston by a final of 12-2. However, in the top of the first, Duffy was greeted by Jose Altuve who belted a solo shot into the fountains in left-center field. Heading into the home half trailing 1-0, the Royals tried to strike off Cole immediately. After Whit Merrifield led off with a double, Adalberto Mondesi manufactured him to third on a fly ball to left. Unfortunately, Jorge Soler was called out on strikes and Hunter Dozier flew out to center field, stranding Merrifield at third.

In the top of the second, Alex Gordon dazzled the crowd with another one of his signature web gems. Ranging back on a deep fly ball towards the left-center gap, the 35-year-old turned back time and extended for the ball mid-flight. Bringing it down and bracing himself for the crash all in one motion, Gordon then turned and rifled it back in to keep the runner at first.

As Duffy continued to dominate, so did his counterpart in Cole. Despite the lone run allowed in the top of the first, the Royals’ lefty worked five clean innings with six punchouts. Able to go at least six innings for the third consecutive start, Duffy kept Kansas City in the game against one of the league’s top arms.

However, it seemed difficult to do so considering the sub-par strike zone from Lance Barrett. With a zone not in favor of the hitters, Gordon was finally the one who’d had enough. Wrung up on a triple-digit fastball at the knees, Gordon let Barrett hear it. It wasn’t until in-between innings when the tempers really started to flare. Before the eighth began, both Gordon and Ned Yost were tossed by Barrett. It was the first for Alex since 2011. Here is the pitch he struck out on.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Royals did spark a rally. After Bubba Starling opened the frame with a broken-bat single to left, he stole second and move to third on an error. Concluding the one-man sequence, he was brought home on a sacrifice-fly from Meibrys Viloria. Knotted up at one a piece, Kansas City handed the ninth to Heath Fillmyer.

With two runners on and two outs, the September call-up fell behind 2-0 to George Springer. Serving up a dead-red fastball, Springer tattooed it way out of the park. Reclaiming the lead at 4-1, Astros’ closer Roberto Osuna came on for the save. Going down in a hurry, the Royals dropped game one of the series and the 93rd overall.

Tomorrow, Mike Montgomery will square off with old friend Zack Greinke. First pitch is set for 6:15 P.M. CT.