Following their 20-hit , 15-run explosion from the night before, the Royals turned around to face Roy Oswalt. Not a great prescription to maintain offensive output. The Royals sent Bruce Chen to the mound, who’s been effective since filling in for Gil Meche.
The game nearly didn’t happen, as a huge system of storms went across northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri, dumping heavy rain over everything. However, after a 90 minute delay, the field was ready for baseball.
After giving up a run in the first, the Royals responded, jumping on Oswalt right away. Scott Podsednick snuck a ball down the line that rattled against the wall. Podsednik was thinking three out of the box, hustling into third with a triple. Jason Kendall got him home with a sacrifice fly.
Podsednik scored again after hitting a grounder deep into the hole at second. Former Royal Jeff Keppinger made a nice play to get to the ball, but hurried on the transfer to his throwing hand and didn’t get a throw to first. Podsednik stole second and moved to third on a slow Jason Kendall grounder up the middle. David DeJesus continued his hot hitting, ripping a single to center to give the Royals a 2-1 lead.
Chen was okay for the first three innings but ran into trouble in the fourth inning. After a leadoff walk to Lance Berkman and a single by Hunter Pence, Pedro Feliz hit a high fly to centerfield. Mitch Maier settled under it but must have taken his eye off of the ball while gearing up for a throw to third and it hit off his glove. The bases were loaded with one out. Jason Michaels singled, scoring Berkman and Pence, making it 3-2.
In the sixth inning, the Astros added another run. After back to back walks to Berkman and Carlos Lee, Chen struck out Pence and got Feliz to pop out. Jason Michaels struck again, driving a ball down the third base line that Alberto Callaspo jumped for and got a glove on, but didn’t get high enough and the ball continued down the line into left field, allowing Berkman to score.
The Royals never got anything going against Oswalt. They still got runners on, but nothing materialized. Billy Butler came up with two on in the fifth inning and hit a high fly ball deep to the track, but Michael Bourn was able to settle under it to end the inning. Butler was up again with DeJesus on in the bottom of the eighth and grounded into yet another double play.
I’ve read some blaming Maier for the loss. I think that’s an overreaction. Should he have caught the ball in the fourth inning? Yes, and I’d say he catches it nine out of ten times. This one time he got ahead of the play and it bit him. But the game is likely tied on the Michaels single anyway, as Berkman (who Chen had walked, remember) likely could have scored regardless. The inning ended on an unassisted double play by Mike Aviles when he snagged a Tommy Manzella line drive and beat Feliz to second base for the second out. So Maier’s error didn’t even change the upcoming lineup in anyway.
Even with the out, the Michaels double in the sixth gives the Astros a 3-2 lead, and that’s the fault of Chen for walking Berkman, then walking Lee behind him and putting a runner into scoring position.
Then again, the Royals didn’t put up much of a fight on offense. Other than DeJesus, Jose Guillen and Podsednik, nobody else got a hit, and only Podsednik’s leadoff triple went for extra bases. Roy Oswalt‘s good. No way to avoid that.
Stars of the Game
David DeJesus, 4-4, all singles
Scott Podsednik, 2-4, triple, 2 RS, stole his 19th base of the season
Jose Guillen, 2-4
Royals bullpen (Kyle Farnsworth, Blake Wood, Joakim Soria): 3.1 IP, 0 hits, 0 walks, 4 strikeouts
Interesting stat: David DeJesus is hitting .466 since the birth of David Jr. He’s also reached base in 14 of his last 18 plate appearances.
The Royals drop to 28-38 and send Anthony Lerew to the hill tonight against Brett Myers.