Much like the Astros appeared unbeatable after trading for Scott Kazmir in a game capped off by a Jose Altuve walk off home run against the Red Sox, the Royals appeared buoyed by the pending acquisition - confirmed during the game, yet all but a certainty even before the official confirmation - of Cincinnati Reds star starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. They jumped on Keuchel early in the game for four runs in the first inning, beginning with a bunt single, and then added a fifth run on a Lorenzo Cain home run in the second inning.
For the Royals, Yordano Ventura certainly did appear to respond well to his demotion following his previous start by digging down for the motivation to shine in this, his first start back with the big league club. He fanned five hitters over seven innings of six-hit baseball.
Dallas Keuchel fell to 12-5 on the season and saw his ERA rise to 2.32 (still third best in the American League, behind teammate Kazmir and Sonny Gray of the Oakland Athletics) while striking out five hitters and walking none.
Jake Marisnick continues to struggle at the plate for the season - though he was able to collect a single today - but he made a wonderful diving play coming in on a sinking line drive to end the fatal first inning. Colby Rasmus added two excellent outfield assists and an RBI single - driving in the Astros' only run of the game following Evan Gattis' SIXTH triple of the season - and the consistently brilliant outfield defense calls to mind a line from a Tom Hanks movie about the consistently routine nature of extraordinary events rendering them as exciting as a trip to Pittsburgh. It's truly a testament to the strength of the outfield defense that the fans see such wonderful defensive play and instinctively nearly expect it, at this point.
Also of note, Dallas Keuchel pitched six or more innings again this afternoon for the 32nd consecutive time, tying an Astros record. Despite lacking depth and command of his pitches today and struggling in the heat - it is noticeable that Keuchel is most dominant at home, and nearly always makes home starts with the roof closed at Minute Maid Park - Keuchel was able to make adjustments, which is always his most valuable weapon, and recover well enough after a bad first inning to complete almost seven innings strongly.
The Astros will now return home to face the Los Angeles Angels in what should feature some of the most dynamic pitching matchups of the season to this point in a three game series. Check back in with TCB for previews of this can't-miss series.