Royals

Royals humble Houston ace Dallas Keuchel, beat Astros 5-1

The Royals' Salvador Perez (13) and Kendrys Morales celebrated after scoring on a double by Omar Infante in the first inning Sunday against the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals went on to win the game 5-1.
The Royals' Salvador Perez (13) and Kendrys Morales celebrated after scoring on a double by Omar Infante in the first inning Sunday against the Houston Astros at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals went on to win the game 5-1. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

Astros ace Dallas Keuchel vexed the Royals for eight shutout innings during a June 30 showdown at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

That domination didn’t make the 750-mile trek to Kansas City, where the Royals pounced on Keuchel early and cruised to a 5-1 win behind a promising outing from Yordano Ventura in Sunday’s rubber match at Kauffman Stadium.

Less than a month ago, Keuchel struck out seven and scattered seven hits without a walk in shutting down the Royals, who socked five hits and pushed across four runs in Sunday’s first inning alone.

Singles by Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Kendrys Morales loaded the bases with no outs, but Keuchel appeared poised to escape the inning unscathed after inducing fielder’s-choice grounders from Salvador Perez and Alex Rios that resulted in force-outs at home.

But Omar Infante refused to let Keuchel off the hook, rolling a two-run single to left field.

“(Keuchel) is a good pitcher, and he’s got good stuff,” Infante said. “We knew that, so it was important for us to get those runs early. … It was a great moment for us and a great moment for me.

“Bases loaded and two outs, I’m just trying to make good contact. … I got lucky. He threw me a little cutter I had the opportunity to hit.”

Next, rookie Cheslor Cuthbert, who started at third in place of Mike Moustakas, doubled the Royals’ advantage with a two-run double just inside the bag down the left-field line.

Those four runs were more than enough for Ventura, who was demoted to Class AAA Omaha on Tuesday but never joined the Storm Chasers.

Ventura was recalled to the big-league club on Wednesday when Jason Vargas went on the disabled list for a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

On the same day the Royals bolstered the rotation by trading for Johnny Cueto, Ventura delivered arguably the most encouraging outing in two months.

“He was out on the attack,” manager Ned Yost said. “He stayed within himself, his mechanics, and did a great job of keeping his pitch count down. … The best way I can describe it is — it was the old Ventura.”

The crowd of 33,638 roared in approval when the Cueto trade was announced on Crown Vision during the third inning and roared almost as loud when Ventura worked out of a seventh-inning jam by getting Jose Altuve to fly out to right.

“My confidence is a lot better after today,” Ventura said, “because I was able to locate my pitches and I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes. It’s definitely a big boost for me. … I feel like I pitched similar to last year … (and) I’m getting into a rhythm.”

Ventura surrendered six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in seven strong innings. He did hit one batter, Carlos Correa in the first inning.

The only blemish came in the second inning when Evan Gattis led off with a triple to right-center field, a shot that Cain got a glove on but couldn’t secure after a long run into the gap.

Gattis scored one batter later when Colby Rasmus ripped an RBI single to left.

Other than that, Ventura, 5-7, encountered few hiccups.

“I feel good,” Ventura said. “It’s always a letdown when you go down, but I returned right away. I feel good, and I feel like I can help this team through the season and if we get to the postseason.”

Cain atoned in the bottom of the inning, smashing a 3-1 fastball from Keuchel roughly 421 feet and over the three rows of seats in left-center.

“That home run was pretty, man,” Yost said. “Watching him drive that ball into the stands like that, Lorenzo is just does what he's been doing all year long. He just goes out and plays an All-Star caliber baseball game.”

It was Cain’s career-best 11th home run of the season. He had nine home runs in 248 games during the last two seasons.

“It’s a natural progression,” Yost said. “I said all along last year that he was capable of hitting 20 home runs. He’s a kid that focuses on driving the ball to all fields and now … he’s picking spots to turn on pitches.”

Keuchel, 12-5, who entered the game with an AL-best 2.12 ERA that jumped to 2.32, was tagged for five runs and 10 hits. He struck out five in 6 2/3 innings.

After Ventura outdueled Keuchel, Franklin Morales and Luke Hochevar each tossed a perfect inning in relief to finish off the victory.

The Royals, who snapped a seven-game skid against the Astros on Saturday, improved to 59-38 and own a 7 1/2-game lead ahead of the Twins in the AL Central.

Royals 5, Astros 1


TableStyle: SP-basebattersCCI Template: SP-basebatters

Houston

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Altuve 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.301

Tucker lf

4

0

0

0

0

2

.262

Correa ss

3

0

1

0

0

0

.288

Valbuena 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.198

Gattis dh

4

1

1

0

0

0

.246

Rasmus rf

4

0

1

1

0

1

.233

Gonzalez 1b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.262

Castro c

3

0

2

0

0

0

.215

Marisnick cf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.232

Totals

33

1

6

1

0

5

 

TableStyle: SP-basebattersCCI Template: SP-basebatters

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Escobar ss

4

0

1

0

0

0

.288

Cain cf

4

1

2

1

0

1

.312

Morales 1b

4

1

3

0

0

1

.282

1-Dyson pr

0

0

0

0

0

0

.252

Hosmer 1b

0

0

0

0

0

0

.304

Perez dh

4

1

0

0

0

2

.252

Rios rf

4

1

2

0

0

0

.261

Infante 2b

4

1

1

2

0

3

.230

Cuthbert 3b

3

0

1

2

0

0

.333

Orlando lf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.243

Butera c

3

0

1

0

0

1

.190

Totals

33

5

11

5

0

8

 

TableStyle: SP-basebyinningsCCI Template: SP-basebyinnings

Houston

010

000

000

1

6

0

Kansas City

410

000

00x

5

11

0

1-ran for K.Morales in the 8th.

LOB: Houston 6, Kansas City 4. 2B: Correa (14), J.Castro (12), Cuthbert (1). 3B: Gattis (6). HR: L.Cain (11), off Keuchel. RBIs: Col.Rasmus (34), L.Cain (46), Infante 2 (28), Cuthbert 2 (4). SB: J.Dyson 2 (17).

Runners left in scoring position: Houston 3 (Valbuena, Correa, Altuve); Kansas City 2 (Orlando, Infante). RISP: Houston 1 for 7; Kansas City 3 for 8.

TableStyle: SP-basepitchersCCI Template: SP-basepitchers

Houston

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Keuchel L, 12-5

6.2

10

5

5

0

5

97

2.32

Fields

0.1

0

0

0

0

1

6

2.78

Velasquez

1

1

0

0

0

2

24

3.92

TableStyle: SP-basepitchersCCI Template: SP-basepitchers

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

W

K

NP

ERA

Ventura W, 5-7

7

6

1

1

0

5

97

4.86

Morales

1

0

0

0

0

0

10

2.18

Hochevar

1

0

0

0

0

0

8

3.04

HBP: by Ventura (Correa).

Umpires: Home, Chris Guccione; First, Mark Carlson; Second, Ryan Blakney; Third, Tripp Gibson. Time: 2:38. Att: 33,638.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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