A night after Gerrit Cole shut down the Royals offense over eight innings, Zack Greinke stifled the team that drafted him on Saturday over six innings, allowing just one run while striking out seven. The drama started early, as after both Greinke and Kansas City starter Mike Montgomery recorded 1-2-3 firsts, Royals bench coach Dale Sveum was ejected for barking at home plate umpire Chris Guccione following a leadoff walk to Alex Bregman in the second.
The baserunner was quickly wiped out by a Yuli Gurriel GIDP, which was followed by a Kyle Tucker infield single. Robinson Chirinos then walked to put a man in scoring position with two outs, but a soft liner off the bat of Abraham Toro was secured by Whit Merrifield to end the inning, Greinke struck out leadoff man Hunter Dozier in the bottom half, but then allowed back to back singles to Alex Gordon and Ryan McBroom, giving first baseman Ryan O’Hearn an opportunity to give Kansas City the lead. Greinke sat him down on four pitches before inducing a groundout from Meibrys Viloria, wiping out the threat.
To lead off the third inning, Josh Reddick scorched a ball to Ryan O’Hearn at 104 MPH on the ground, who secured it for the out. George Springer then walked on four pitches, before Jose Altuve came up with another hard hit ball, this one into center field, but it was tracked down by Whit Merrifield for the second out, and Michael Brantley grounded out to end the inning.
Greinke was the victim of some tough luck in the third, as Nicky Lopez beat out an infield single before a double to left center gap from Whit Merrifield created a play at the plate. Lopez slid wide of the bag and was initially called out, but after review was awarded a run as Robinson Chirinos was ruled to have obstructed Lopez’s path to home:
Royals challenge call that Nicky Lopez is out at home plate and that Robinson Chirinos does not violate Home Plate Collision rule in the 3rd; calls overturned, runner is safe, violation. Powered by @Mitel. pic.twitter.com/8uh1MJM4zh— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) September 15, 2019
This gave the Royals a 1-0 lead, and Greinke then settled in to retire the next three batters. Apparently not feeling like playing from behind, Alex Bregman connected on a 3-1 fastball for a homer to left, evening the score. After a groundout from Gurriel, Kyle Tucker connected on a line drive single and stole second, giving Robinson Chirinos a chance to deliver the go-ahead RBI. Chirinos walked, bringing Abrham Toro to the plate. and Kyle Tucker picked on Viloria for another steal, giving the Astros a man at third with just one out. However, Toro went down on strikes, and Josh Reddick flew out to end the inning with the score still tied.
Things were quiet from that point until the top of the sixth, when a leadoff walk to Bregman and a single off the bat of Yuli gave Kyle Tucker an RBI opportunity with nobody out. Tucker came through with his third hit of the night, scoring Bregman. It looked as though the flood gates might open for the Astros, as Robinson Chirinos hit what looked to be a tailor made double play ball, but Lopez was unable to handle the throw from shortstop Adalberto Mondesi and all three runners ended up safe.
At this point, Montgomery was lifted from the game in favor of Tim Hill, who struck out Abraham Toro on three pitches before inducing outs in the air from Springer and Diaz to limit the damage. A leadoff single from Jorge Soler in the sixth gave the Royals some hope to even the score against Greinke, but he quickly dashed those hopes by inducing a double play ball from the next batter, Hunter Dozier. Greinke then put a bow on his night by retiring Alex Gordon, and Kevin McCarthy came on for the Royals in the seventh. Other than a one out single from Michael Brantley, the Astros weren’t able to get anything going against McCarthy, and things were turned over to the Astros bullpen.
Hecotr Rondon delivered a 1-2-3 seventh, and in the eighth the Astros were able to secure some much needed insurance. Leading off the inning, Kyle Tucker notched his fourth hit of the night, and a walk to Chirinos gave Houston a prime scoring chance. AJ Hinch called on Yordan Alvarez to pinch hit for Abraham Toro who had a difficult night at the plate, and Alvarez seized the opportunity by crushing laser beam home run to center field, extending the lead to 5-1. From there, Royals pitcher Gabe Speier struck out the next three Astros batters, but the damage was done.
Joe Smith handled eighth inning duties for the Astros, making quick work of the Royals in a 1-2-3 inning, and the Astros got to the Royals bullpen again in the ninth. Michael Brantley led off with a hit to left and was replaced at first by Myles Straw, and Alex Bregman walked before Gurriel grounded out to first, advancing Straw. The Royals then intentionally walked a 4 for 4 Kyle Tucker to load the bases, and Robinson Chirinos came through with a single to left to score a run. Jack Mayfield and Jake Marisinick were then retired to end the inning, and Bryan Abreu was tasked with the ninth on the road.
Abreu had a bit of an adventure, as after he retired Jorge Soler to start things off, Dozier and Gordon had back to back hits to put men on first and second. Abreu then struck out Ryan McBroom on a 2-2 pitch, but was pulled in favor of Will Harris for the last out. Harris made quick work of O’Hearn, sealing the 6-1 win and a series win. Seeking a series sweep, the Astros will send Wade Miley to hill tomorrow in a daytime tilt opposite Jakob Junis. Both pitchers have a rough go of it of late.