With one swing of the bat, the Royals scored more runs against the Defending World Champion Houston Astros than they did in a two-game series against the garbage-pail Cincinnati Reds.
Which was good!
Three innings later, the Astros scored more runs on one swing of the bat than the Royals did in the entire game, which was less good and also certainly more familiar. And that swing by Evan Gattis proved the difference in a 7-3 Kansas City loss at the K on Friday night.
The Royals were fortunate to not face Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in this series, but it’s not like Charlie Morton of the 7-1 record, 2.82 ERA and a bunch of other advanced stats that would be fun to look up if I wrote about the Astros. But I don’t, so I admire what they’ve done from afar.
However, it was the Royals that struck first in the third inning off the bat of a man that is auditioning for a playoff run. With Paulo Orlando (one-out single) and Abraham Almonte (one-out walk) on base, Mike Moustakas stroked a double down into the right field corner to score both and give the Royals a crooked number on the board for the first time since Sunday.
The lead was… short-lived. Two batters into the top of the fourth, Alex Bregman homered off Jakob Junis. Two batters later, Carlos Correa’s 12th homer of the season—a 455-foot moonshot to left—tied the game.
Morton, who was pretty good and pretty sharp most of the night, completely lost the handle in the fifth for a moment. Orlando lined a one-out single and the conga line started—Almonte and Whit Merrifield walked to load the bases, and then Moustakas drew a bases-loaded free pass to put the Royals back in front, with one down and the bases loaded to boot.
Salvador Perez’s inning-ending 5-4-3 double-play ball kinda ruined that though.
Another conga line, this one for the Astros and it ended with a game-changing grand slam. Jose Altuve singled, Correa singled, Josh Reddick singled and then Evan Gattis hit a no-doubter to left-center. Four runs on the board with one swing.
Hey, can we talk about Junis’ gopher ball problem real quick? Because that’s 18 allowed now this season, which is tied for second-most in baseball with Cole Hamels. Because 14 of those have come in four games, it’s not the problem I worry most about (that’s congestive heart failure, personally—be sure to go the doctor on the regular) but because this makes back-to-back games Junis has been taken deep three times, I’ll be eyeing Wednesday’s start against Texas with some concern.
The Astros tacked on another run in the eighth, although it could certainly have been worse had Perez not been thinking quickly to pick Reddick off at third. He arrived there after a bang-bang call at first, initially ruled to have gotten Reddick out, was overturned. Gattis doubled Reddick to third, but Perez flashed the cannon to pick him off.
I mean, ultimately who cares because Marwin Gonzalez doubled to score Gattis, but the effort is the important thing. Meanwhile, were the Royals so offensively inept that Ryan Goins—who subbed in after Jorge Soler broke his dang metatarsal as though things couldn’t possibly get worse—was the only player to get a hit over the final three innings.
The Bright Spot: Paulo had two hits! Up to .179 on the season and thank God, because he’s gonna get a lot of playing time now that the Two Jorge’s are out for the next little bit.
The Nadir: Lots of directions to go here, but I think—I know—that my favorite is that of Kansas City’s 3-4-5 hitters, Ryan Goins is the only one who got a hit. 1-for-12, seven strikeouts, Goins’ double the lone good thing.
The Next Step: Dallas Keuchel and Danny Duffy! This would’ve been better in 2015, but Duffy is on a roll lately and looks to keep it up and give the Royals a (probably slim) chance at taking the series on Sunday. Keuchel has a 7.33 ERA in his last five starts, but he’s a former Cy Young winner—maybe he doesn’t have the A+ stuff as often anymore, but he still has it.