Too Hot to Handle: Royals Drop Opener to Astros and Dominant Kazmir

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In Friday’s series opener with the surprising Houston Astros, there was really only one main story: the debut of Scott Kazmir. The newly acquired Astros pitcher was brilliant, throwing seven strong innings, giving up only three singles along the way. The Royals simply could not get anything going against the veteran left-hander, as he lowered his ERA to a sterling 2.24 on the year. His opponent on the hill tonight was Jeremy Guthrie, who has had an up-and-down season so far. That inconsistency continued to show in this one, as he gave up four runs on 11 hits in seven innings of work.

The scoring got started in the top of the 3rd inning, when Preston Tucker hit his 9th homer of the year and put Houston ahead 1-0. The Astros would go on to score one more in the inning on a single by Colby Rasmus. Houston struck again in the 4th, plating two more. Things could have been much worse, however, had Jose Altuve not been gunned down at home by Paulo Orlando and Alcides Escobar on a double by Tucker. After that, Guthrie settled down and gutted out three more innings to keep the bullpen fresh. His ERA now sits at 5.35, but once again he kept the Royals within striking distance. Kazmir was just too dominant tonight.

The win tonight gives Scott Kazmir his first win at Kauffman Stadium since 2010. The change of scenery seems to have come at a perfect time for both Kazmir and the Astros, as he has given up just one earned run in his last 27.1 innings pitched. Leadoff singles for the Royals in the 1st, 4th and 5th innings were not enough to jumpstart the offense, and they really did not have much of a threat until the bottom of the 9th, when Mike Moustakas walked to lead off the inning. After a popout from Lorenzo Cain, Hosmer reached on an infield single. This prompted Houston to bring in their closer, Luke Gregerson. He incduced a game-ending double play from Kendrys Morales, and that was that. The Astros now sit at 55-43, just a half game back of the Angels in the AL West. Kansas City now has suffered consecutive losses for the first time since July 1-2, and is 57-38 on the year. That mark is still the best in the American League, and six games clear of the Minnesota Twins. Tomorrow’s matchup pits the resurgent Danny Duffy against Scott Feldman, as the Royals will want to get back on the winning track.

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Author: Jake Becker

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