Apr 16, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) hits a home run during the eleventh inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
With so many hitters on the Royals slumping at once, it was seemingly a matter of time before the Royals offense got going. In the end, a player who was not even in the starting lineup had the biggest hit for the Royals as they defeated the Houston Astros 6-4 in eleven innings.
With left handed Dallas Keuchel on the mound for the Astros, Danny Valencia and Justin Maxwell were in the starting lineup. Valencia made his presence felt in his first at bat, hitting Keuchel’s 2-1 offering into the seats in left for his first home run of the season, giving the Royals a 1-0 lead in the second.
Houston came back in the third against starter Jeremy Guthrie. With one out, super prospect George Springer, making his major league debut, hit a slow roller up the third base line for his first major league hit. Jason Castro followed with a home run of his own to left, giving the Astros the lead.
The Royals came right back in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with one out. Lorenzo Cain grounded out to first to plate Alex Gordon with the tying run, but Alcides Escobar struck out with runners on second and third to end the threat.
The score remained tied until the bottom of the sixth. After a leadoff walk, Marc Krauss sent yet another ball into the left field seats, giving the Astros a 4-2 lead. Guthrie would leave after finishing out the inning, giving up four runs on six hits and two walks, striking our four over his six innings of work. With the Royals struggles to score this season, it seemed as though he would be tagged for his first loss of the year.
However, the Royals fought back against the Astros bullpen. The Royals put runners on second and third with one out, bringing up Omar Infante. Infante lined the 1-1 pitch sharply, but right at third baseman Matt Dominguez for the second out. A walk to Eric Hosmer loaded the bases, bringing up Salvador Perez. Perez, who has been one of the few Royals off to a hot start, continued to produce, grounding a single just past the shortstop to tie the game at 4-4.
The game turned into a battle of the bullpens. Kansas City finally had a chance to take the lead with two outs in the tenth, as Billy Butler and Gordon both snapped their hitless streaks, putting runners on first and second with two outs. Jerome Williams escaped the jam unscathed by striking out Nori Aoki to end the threat.
Houston had a two out chance of their own in the bottom of the inning, putting runners on first and third against Danny Duffy. However, Duffy made quick work of L.J. Hoes, striking him out on three pitches to send the game to the eleventh inning.
That was when Mike Moustakas made his presence felt. Having entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, Moustakas crushed the 2-1 offering from Williams into the right field seats, giving the Royals a 5-4 lead. Infante drove in another run on a fielder’s choice, bringing in Greg Holland for the save. Holland had a rocky outing, but Gordon made a nice diving catch on Jose Altuve‘s sinking line drive with two on and two outs to preserve the victory.
Danny Duffy earned the win, giving up three hits and a walk over two innings, striking out four batters. Even though he allowed four baserunners, Duffy was dominant, and seemed to have the best command he has had over the past couple of seasons. If this continues, Duffy could be quite a force in the Royals bullpen.
The Royals third basemen, Danny Valencia and Mike Moustakas, combined to go 3-5 with two home runs in the victory.