The KC Royals finished up their road games of Interleague Play with a 2-1 win in Houston to win the series. Since getting swept by Pittsburgh June 8-10, the Royals have won seven of nine (which is three straight series).
After his disastrous start against the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday, starter Bruce Chen came out with a good start against the Astros. I’m not saying he was dominant, as he only lasted 5.2 innings, but he got the job done. Chen allowed just one run on five hits and two walks while striking out six. He got into trouble in the 6th inning, but Kelvin Herrera came in and got out of the jam.
Boy did Herrera get out of the jam. He faced four batters over 1.1 innings and struck out ALL four on a total of 18 pitches.
The dominance in the Royals bullpen continued behind Herrera, as Jose Mijares, Greg Holland, and closer Jonathan Broxton closed the door on the Astros.
It got a little dicey for Broxton in the 9th inning (when aren’t his outings nerve-wracking?), but he pulled it out. The tying run stood on third base with just one out, but Broxton struck out Brian Bixler for the second out. He then got Jordan Schafer to fly out to end the game.
Is anyone else noticing that Broxton is throwing nothing more than his fastball lately (just three sliders today)?
Meanwhile, the Royals offense didn’t do a whole lot against Astros starter Jordan Lyles. They scored their first run in the 5th inning on a Brayan Pena ground out. In the 6th inning after an Alex Gordon one out triple, Yuniesky Betancourt reached on a Jed Lowrie error, which scored the eventual game winner. They had just four hits in the game, just three off Lyles over seven innings.
The Astros struck out a whopping 14 times. Remember when they started out hot? They have now come crashing back into the lower half of the National League Central (11 games back at 28-41).
As of right now, the Royals are just four games back of first place in the American League Central. The three teams in front of the Royals (Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit) play tonight.
Next up for the Royals, a day off. Hopefully that doesn’t cool them off, as they welcome I-70 rival St. Louis into town for the weekend. I know, didn’t they just play each other?
*The Royals brought back infielder Irving Falu and sent reliever Louis Coleman back to Triple-A. Falu had been tearing it up for Omaha since he had gotten sent back earlier in the year. He was hitting .351 over his last ten games with three homeruns and 12 RBIs. He also walked (9) more than he struck out (5).
**For more on the Astros, check out Tales from the Juice Box.