First inning: Nothing brewing
Good stuff from Johnny Cueto to open the game, retiring the Astros in order on just 11 pitches. Of course, Alcides Escobar swung at the first pitch in the Royals’ half, but he lifted a lazy fly to right. Ben Zobrist walked to thunderous applause, but Lorenzo Cain hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
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Second inning: A bolt of lightning
The Astros made the most of an innocuous start to the inning. With two outs, Evan Gattis hit a ball hard down the third-base line. Mike Moustakas made a nice play on the ball, but his throw to first was off-line. Eric Hosmer fielded the ball and went for the tag, but the ball squirted out of his glove. No big deal? Nope. Luis Valbuena hit a home run into the right-field bullpen and the Astros had the lead.
Third inning: Two hits, nothing cooking
Salvador Perez opened the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle (no no-hitter tonight), but Alex Gordon grounded into the unusual 5-6-3 double play with the shift on. Alex Rios’ dribbler past the mound was weak enough that shortstop Carlos Correa didn’t attempt a throw to first. But Escobar flied to center to end the inning.
Fourth inning: Slip and score
Good stuff from Cueto again as he set the Astros down in order for the third time. Lorenzo Cain got the Royals’ offense going with an excuse-me swing into short right. Hosmer followed with a single into center. Cain was running on the pitch and he never stopped, rounding third when center fielder Carlos Gomez slipped. The Royals were on the board.
Fifth inning: Alex Rios, hero
Another 1-2-3 Cueto inning. Perez was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count and Alex Gordon followed with a ground-rule double over right fielder George Springer’s head. That ended McHugh’s night and Mike Fiers entered. Alex Rios greeted him with a ground ball over the bag at third and both runs scored. An Escobar bunt and a Zobrist fly to right brought home Rios.
Sixth inning: Great defense
Houston’s Jason Casto opened the inning with a blooper to short left, which Escobar made a nice running catch on. Altuve hit flare down the left-field line. Gordon made a great running/sliding grab in foul territory. Springer then lifted a fly to short right and Zobrist tracked it down.
Seventh inning: Zobrist can pick it
Zobrist made an even better play on the first Astros hitter of the inning, Carlos Correa. He hit a soft liner that seemed headed to short right field, but Zobrist ran back and snared it. Cueto then struck out Colby Rasmus for the third time, and Gomez grounded out to Moustakas. The Royals went down in order.
Eighth inning: Johnny F. Cueto
The Astros continued to have trouble making any contact against Cueto, going down in order yet again. That was 19 straight retired by Cueto. The Astros brought in Dallas Keuchel, the star of Game 3. Escobar doubled to right, and after Zobrist lined out, Cain was intentionally walked. After an out, Kendrys Morales crushed a three-run homer.
Ninth inning: Wade Davis, the closer
Wade Davis came on in the ninth and did what he seemingly always does. Set the opponents down in order. Game over. Series over.