Saturday, June 25, 2016

Astros ride 9-run 1st inning in rout of Royals

George Springer had three hits and drove in five runs, and the Astros blitzed Royals starter Edinson Volquez for nine runs in the first inning in cruising to a 13-4 victory on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Springer is the first player in the modern era to hit a triple and a grand slam in the first inning, according to MLB Network, and the first to triple and hit a grand slam in the same inning since Brandon Inge of Detroit in 2004. Springer was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
"Just looking for something to hit hard," Springer said. "The most important thing there is to get the guy in from third base and I was able to hit a breaking ball, and I guess hit it hard enough."
Springer also is the first leadoff hitter to hit a grand slam in the first inning since Danny Tartabull of Seattle in 1986 against the Angels' Don Sutton.
"The whole story of the game is the first couple of innings and the quality of the at-bats that we put up," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It was a great start to the series, obviously, and really we did a lot of things right that first inning. We took advantage of a mistake on the popup drop, but a lot of singles, a big hit by George, obviously, to separate the game, but we did a good job of tacking on runs -- run after run after run because of the at-bats."
Volquez gave up eight hits and 12 runs (11 earned) in one-plus innings. It was the most runs ever given up by a Royals starter. The most runs ever yielded by a Royals pitcher was 13 byVin Mazzaro in 2011.
"Everything was in the middle," Volquez said. "All my pitches were hanging or going back to the middle. I've been in that situation before. It's not to worry about. I just have to get ready for my next start.
"Everything was pretty straight. I knew it right away from the get-go. I told [pitching coach] Dave [Eiland], 'I've got nothing.'"
Added Royals manager Ned Yost, "He just wasn't very good. ... It just wasn't his night tonight."
Left-hander Dallas Keuchel started for the Astros, who won their season-high sixth straight, and labored through 6 1/3 innings, giving up 11 hits and four runs. Colby Rasmus went 4-for-5 and launched an eighth-inning homer, his 10th of the season.
The Royals dropped four games behind the first-place Indians in the American League Central, while the Astros sit nine games back of the first-place Rangers in the AL West.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Springer's grand dinger: The Astros outfielder drove in a career-high five runs and was a double shy of the cycle, getting the two hardest hits out of the way in the first inning with a leadoff triple and his club-record third grand slam of the season, which leads the Majors.More >
"Jose [Altuve] kept telling me to swing and get the double, but I would much rather us win," Springer said of the cycle attempt.
Escobar goes yard: Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar homered into the left-field seats leading off the fifth inning for his first home run of the season. Escobar last homered in a regular-season game on Aug. 21 at Fenway Park -- a span of 455 at-bats. Escobar did hit an inside-the-park-homer in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series.
"I don't remember the last one -- maybe September or August?" Escobar said. "I'm not trying to hit [home runs]. Just trying to put the ball in play."
Keuchel snaps losing streak:The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner wasn't sharp, but he was able to pick up his first win of the month, thanks to the early run support. Keuchel won for only the second time since April 21. He became the first Astros starter to get the win on the road despite giving up 11 hits since Jason Jennings on June 19, 2007, at Anaheim.
"I'll take it. I'm not complaining by any means," Keuchel said. "My job was just to go out there and fill up the zone. That's what I did. Not very happy with the stat line, but that game calls for that type of scenario and that's exactly what I did."
Royals' bullpen steps up: After the disappointing start by Volquez, the Royals' bullpen came in and restored some order. Right-hander Dillon Gee threw three shutout innings, giving up four hits while striking out two. Left-hander Brian Flynn then threw five innings of one-run relief. More >
"Gee and Flynn were phenomenal," Yost said. "That was the best-case scenario for us to only have to use only two relievers. We're still in good shape for tomorrow."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The 12 runs for Keuchel matches his run support total from his previous six games combined.
VALBUENA EXITS
Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena left the game in the second inning with a left lower back strain and should return to the lineup on Saturday, Hinch said.
WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Right-hander Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.42 ERA) will get the ball for the series rematch at 6:15 p.m. CT on Saturday as Houston seeks a season-high seven-game win streak. Fiers is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his last two starts and has a 2.63 ERA in June.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young (2-6, 5.61) will start the middle game of the series on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. CT. Young gave up one run and three hits over six innings in his last outing against Detroit.

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