Jason Castro and George Springer (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
The night started off with lots of optimism and excitement. Two first inning singles by Omar Infante and Eric Hosmer then brought down everyone’s mood. It was indicative of how the rest of the night would go for Dallas Keuchel and the Astros pitching staff in a 6-4 defeat.
Keuchel coaxed a double play out of Salvador Perez, and the first threat of the night was averted. It was not smooth sailing for the southpaw, but it is hard to argue with six innings of two run ball from your fifth starter. He allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five batters. Of course you would like to see Keuchel pitch deeper into the game, but as usual his pitch count did not let that happen.
While obviously everyone cares about the result of the game, we all know George Springer is the real story.
Springer, batting second, came to the plate six times and went 1-5 with a walk and two strikeouts. Overall, we saw Springer’s pure talent, explosive swing, speed, and good eye, but also that he does have issues with the strikeout. His first major league hit came on a swinging bunt that went no further than 10-15 feet from home plate, but he did also score his first career run on Jason Castro‘s third inning home run.
Castro’s home run into the Crawford Boxes came an inning after Danny Valencia hit one there off Keuchel to give Kansas City the lead. Keuchel did a good job of keeping the ball on the ground,but there were times where the Royals hit the ball where it was pitched for hits against the shift. That is something that must be addressed moving forward if Houston is going to continue to shift.
Marc Krauss who has been struggling to start the season, gave the Astros the lead again in the sixth inning after a Lorenzo Cain ground out tied the game. Krauss hit a two run home run which plated Jesus Guzman as he went 2-4 to raise his average to .172.
That lead was short lived because then the bullpen got involved. The newest member of the starting rotation, Brad Peacock, relieved Keuchel to start the seventh inning. It was Peacock’s day to throw, so it made sense to utilize him in the game.
After striking out former Astro Justin Maxwell to start the inning, Peacock allowed back to back singles to Cain and Alcides Escobar before Infante lined out to third base. Kevin Chapman then entered the game to face the left-handed Eric Hosmer and promptly walked him to load the bases. Next on the bullpen carousel came Matt Albers who induced a ground ball from Perez that found its way into center field to tie the game.
For the second straight night, the Astros were then at the mercy of the Royals’ bullpen, and they weren’t able to generate much offense.
Albers settled down to pitch a scoreless eighth inning and was followed by Josh Fields and Jerome Williams. Williams ran into trouble in the eleventh inning allowing a lead off homer to Mike Moustakas. The Royals then managed an insurance run to close out the scoring.
The Astros did have ten hits, but both Springer and Jose Altuve were picked off first base and Houston failed to capitalize on four Kansas City errors. But tomorrow is another game, and despite what the box score says, Springer did look like he belonged.
Scott Feldman takes the mound for the Astros tomorrow as they look to salvage a game from this series.