Just like the previous two games, the Royals took an early lead tonight in Houston. Unlike the previous two, however, Kansas City this time held on for a 7-4 victory.
Cristian Javier entered tonight’s game having allowed just two runs in his last 19 innings pitched. The Royals rendered that moot by playing some good ol’ three-true-outcomes baseball, giving themselves a 4-1 lead after two innings. Their first eight plate appearances: home run, walk, strikeout, strikeout, home run, strikeout, strikeout, home run. The home runs were increasingly impressive. Whit Merrifield’s leadoff dinger was a high flyball that took advantage of the Crawford Boxes, with Minute Maid being one of just three ballparks that it would have left. Hunter Dozier hit a liner to left that handily cleared the wall. Emmanuel Rivera tagged one that left the bat at 107.5 mph and travelled an impressive 429’.
Kansas City would add another in the third when Dozier scored Andrew Benintendi on a double that just missed clearing the fence for another homer. This is the third straight game in which the Royals have scored in each of the first three innings, becoming just the third team in MLB history to do so. They also became the first team this season to score five or more runs in three straight games against the Astros.
On the mound for the Royals, it was a tale of two Brad Kellers. In the first, third, and fifth innings, Keller retired the Astros 1-2-3 in tidy fashion. In the second inning, he allowed three baserunners and a run. In the fourth, he allowed four baserunners and two runs. In the sixth, he allowed a two-out homer to Aledmys Díaz that made the score 5-4 and ended Keller’s night.
With how the previous two games in this series had gone, a 5-4 lead after six innings hardly felt safe. But things were different this time. José Cuas danced out of trouble in the sixth, and Dylan Coleman, Taylor Clarke, and Scott Barlow were able to hold down Houston the rest of the way. The Royals put up a couple insurance runs in the 9th off the bats of Benintendi and MJ Melendez and secured the 7-4 win.
The win moves the Royals to 30-50, still firmly in last place in the AL Central. They will try to force a split in this four-game set in Houston tomorrow afternoon.
Brad Keller - 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HR
Cristian Javier - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 3 HR
Hunter Dozier - 2-3, 2B, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB
Jake Meyers - 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI