After a dazzling 5-1 homestand, the Astros needed to make a statement at the home of the defending World Champion Kansas City Royals. Does a nine-run first inning work for ya?
Springer: Trots after slam
(c) Associated Press
That's what Houston did Friday in the series opener, scoring a dozen runs in the first two innings of a 13-4 slaughter to win their sixth in a row and eight of nine. There are now seven teams bunched within 2-1/2 games of the final wild card spot in the American League and the 38-36 Astros are right in the thick of it, a mere 1-1/2 games back of Toronto.
If this were a boxing match, they would have stopped it after two innings. George Springer opened the game with a triple off Edinson Volquez and climaxed the inning with a grand slam, registering seven total bases in the first inning alone. He followed that with an RBI grounder in the second to plate the 12th run and a single in the fourth to go 3-for-5 with five RBIs.
Colby Rasmus added four hits in the 14-hit assault, including a solo homer in the eighth for the final tally. Carlos Gomez was the only other Astro with a multi-hit game.
But the hits fell like raindrops in the first inning as the Astros plated nine to start a game for the first time since July 10th, 2003 in Cincinnati. Volquez left allowing 12 runs while recording three outs.
All of this was very welcome to Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel who has not been the same pitcher this year. He won for just the fourth time and chalked up his first victory in over a month. Keuchel allowed eleven hits and four runs in 6-1/3rd innings before Scott Feldman mopped up to get the final eight outs. Two of Kansas City's runs were solo homers down the left field line that snuck inside the foul pole but it has been that type of year for the southpaw.
Numerous Houston fans are also rejoicing at the news that the Astros have called up first baseman A.J. Reed from AAA Fresno. Reed was batting just .266 with 11 homers but has been hot lately. Manager A.J. Hinch will start him at Designated Hitter on Saturday. To make room on the active roster, the Astros optioned outfielder Tony Kemp back to Fresno after a fairly successful (.238 average) debut. A subsequent 40-man roster move will also be needed.
Reed will begin his big league career (weather permitting) in a 6:15 Central Saturday night affair at Kauffman Stadium. Mike Fiers (5-3) will pitch for Houston against The Other Chris Young (2-6), who is 4-2 lifetime against the Astros. Forecasts predict a game time temperature of 92 degrees with a chance for rain.
- Bob Hulsey