Wednesday, April 13, 2016

LoCain's early blast holds up in Houston

Lorenzo Cain hit a three-run home run and the Royals' shutdown bullpen did exactly that in a tense 3-2 win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Luke HochevarKelvin HerreraJoakim Soria and closer Wade Davis all turned in scoreless innings of relief for the Royals. The quartet gave up one hit and struck out seven. Davis worked out of a two-on two-out jam by getting George Springer with a called third strike.
"[Davis] always finds a way," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He'll bend a little bit, but I've never seen him break. I mean, maybe sooner or later. But his stuff is so good, he can get through an inning throwing more balls than strikes with a one-run lead."
Right-hander Kris Medlen made his first start of the season and after a shaky start, he kept the Astros in check. Medlen gave up two runs in the first but wound up lasting five innings, giving up six hits while striking out seven. Right-hander Mike Fiers went six innings for the Astros and gave up all three runs and six hits, walking one and striking out three.
Fast start for Royals: The Royals jumped on Fiers before many of the fans even got seated.Alcides Escobar singled, Mike Moustakas singled, and Cain walloped a liner into the left-field seats for a three-run homer, his second of the season.
"It was a two-seamer inside and got my hands in and just got it to sneak out," Cain said. "Always big to get a lead in this park."
Out on the bases: The Astros didn't lack for chances against Medlen, but double plays and some strange baserunning stunted some rallies. It started even in a two-run first, as Carlos Correa grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Springer spoiled his two-hit outing by getting picked off first after his third-inning single. Correa was doubled up in odd 4-3-6-3-5 fashion, tagged out in a rundown after a leaping Omar Infante dropped Colby Rasmus's line drive.
"In a perfect world, he would just go back to the base," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Correa's decision. "Once you're committed, just go back and stay. The defense would have to tag you first before recording the out at first to record a double play. ... Very, very instinctual play, it's nothing that you can practice or that you're used to."
Big Medlen pitch: Medlen got in trouble in the fifth when he walked Springer and Correa with two out, bringing up the one man the Royals don't want to see -- Rasmus. After falling into a 3-1 count, Medlen threw a curveball for a called strike two. He then unleashed another hard curve down and in, and Rasmus swung over the top, preserving the one-run lead. More >
"That last pitch had some tilt to it," said Cain, who had a great view from center field.
Added Yost, "There were a lot of big moments for us in that game, and that was one of them."
Fiers fine in time: Three batters faced, three runs scored. After Cain's home run, that was Fiers' line. But with a still-weary bullpen behind him, Fiers responded admirably, retiring 12 of the next 14 Kansas City batters while saving the relief arms for the latter innings. The Astros only needed to use Will Harris and Luke Gregerson out of the bullpen, both of whom turned in a scoreless performance.
"I needed to be two runs better and pick my team up, but I came up a run short," Fiers said.
The Royals have recorded all five of their runs this series via home run. Kendrys Morales' two-run shot in the eighth inning Monday was all the scoring Kansas City managed in an 8-2 loss, while the Royals were shut out for 27 straight outs Tuesday night after Cain's three-run homer.
"I don't mind it, but I would like it if there was no media." -- Royals pitcher Chien-Ming Wangon Taiwan media following him every day
Royals: Right-hander Yordano Ventura (0-0, 3.60 ERA) makes his second start of the season in Game 3 of this series Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Ventura's last start here was in Game 4 of their American League Division Series, when he struck out eight over five innings and gave up three runs in a game the Royals won, 9-6.
Astros: Veteran right-hander Scott Feldman gets the ball after an uninspiring 2016 debut. He allowed five runs in four innings during his first start since Sept. 1. Feldman has allowed two runs or fewer in three of his past four starts against the Royals, dating back to 2013.

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