The Kansas City Royals, who ran past the Houston Astros for a series-opening win Monday, will look to remain aggressive as the four-game set continues Tuesday.
Kansas City stole four bases Monday en route to a 7-6 victory, with Nicky Lopez’s baserunning exploits proving especially valuable.
With the score 4-4 in the seventh inning, Lopez drew a leadoff walk, stole second and third, then came home on Carlos Santana’s single.
After the Astros tied the game 5-5 in the top of the eighth, Lopez was at it again in the bottom of the inning. After Whit Merrifield singled with two outs, Lopez moved the runner to third with a single, then stole second. That set the stage for Salvador Perez’s two-run single.
The Royals allowed a run in the ninth but held on for the win.
The gritty victory displayed the style Kansas City manager Mike Matheny expects.
“We talked about it before the game and made sure guys understood: It’s who we are,” Matheny said. “Don’t lose sight of it. We played three games that I felt were very uncharacteristic the last series (against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals). We didn’t display the kind of fight. It wasn’t like us.
“We talk about teams having short memories. It’s pretty amazing how these guys forget about the last one and come back and keep going.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker wasn’t surprised by the Royals’ running prowess.
Baker said, “I mean, that’s their game. That’s the tendency of the Royals as long as I can remember. Not only are they aggressive, they have speed. They’re leading the (American League) in stolen bases.”
Aledmys Diaz had two hits and two RBIs on Monday for Houston, including a home run in the fifth and the game-tying single in the eighth. In the 17 games since he returned from the injured list on July 27 after missing 43 games, he is hitting .347 (25-for-72) with four home runs and 16 RBIs.
“You really see since he’s been back how much we miss him,” Baker said recently. “When he first went out, six weeks seemed like an eternity to be without him, without one of the best utility men in baseball. We certainly missed his bat; you miss his defense and you miss the steadiness you can count on every day. You just have to keep an eye on him to make sure that he stays healthy.”
The Astros will send Framber Valdez (8-3, 3.09 ERA) to the mound to face Daniel Lynch (2-3, 5.97) on Tuesday in a battle of left-handers.
Valdez has produced eight quality starts among his 14 starts this season. He has won three of his past four decisions while posting a 2.66 ERA during the stretch. In his latest outing, he held the Colorado Rockies to one run on four hits in six innings en route to a 5-1 win on Wednesday.
Valdez will be starting against Royals for the first time in his career. He has faced them twice in relief, allowing five runs in four innings.
Lynch will be opposing the Astros for the first time. His rookie season is a two-part story. He had three starts his first time around and went 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA. After going back to Triple-A Omaha for a while, he has been a different pitcher in four starts after retuning, going 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA.
–Field Level Media