After two straight performances where he failed to get even two outs, Wade Miley needed to show signs of a rebound. The offense would be fine, but the Astros need their fourth starter ready for the playoffs. Thankfully, Sunday looked a lot closer to the Wade Miley from the first twenty-eight starts of the year. Sure, it’s the Royals, but you have to start somewhere, and the Astros ultimately won 12-3.
It seemed like the problems might resurface in the first when the Royals struck first. Of course, just as in the last two starts, there was some ball-in-play weirdness afoot, as Jorge Soler tripled in Adalberto Mondesi after the latter reached on an infield single. From there, though, Miley buckled down and struck out the next two batters to strand Soler.
Of course, the Astros immediately struck back in the next half inning when Yuli Gurriel led off with his twenty-eighth homer of the year, tying him back up with Jose Altuve for the for third on the team (Altuve and George Springer, notably, were given the day off, the first time neither were in the lineup since mid-June).
A swing prettier than the Plaza lights. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/P3ktSjw8f4— Houston Astros (@astros) September 15, 2019
Things wouldn’t end there, though, as the Astros would string together four singles off the bats of Josh Reddick, Aledmys Diaz, Abraham Toro, and Michael Brantley to drive in two more. An Alex Bregman flyout to the warning track kept things from becoming lopsided too early. Toro would pick up another two RBI the next inning when he doubled in Yordan Álvarez and Reddick
After a quiet fifth, the offense struck again, when Yuli singled and Josh immediately homered for the 13th time on the season to make it 7-1. The Royals would make up one run of that in the next inning, but Miley worked around a Nick Dini leadoff double and singles from Whit Merrifield and Soler to limit the damage to just that one run.
Sundays are run days. #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/Gomj3g46Og— Houston Astros (@astros) September 15, 2019
The sixth was a mostly-quiet inning, and it marked the end of the line for Wade after 95 pitches. His final line wound up being seven hits allowed in 6.0 innings, with 4 Ks against 2 walks and 2 runs allowed (plus a pickoff). Not his best start, but after the last two games, it’s a good sign. Also notably, most of the hits allowed were again singles that fell in, with only the Soler triple and Dini double going for extra bases.
From there, Josh James and Chris Devenski had scoreless, one-hit innings, with Josh even striking out two along the way. Framber Valdez came in for mop-up duty in the ninth and things got…well, not dicey, since it was a blow-out against a bad team in the ninth inning, but Kansas City did pick up a run on three singles and a walk. Had Myles Straw, subbing at second base, not made a nice play on a call that had to be overturned, they might have picked up another run along the way, but luckily things didn’t come to that.
Anyway, the offense continued putting up runs after Wade’s exit, so it was a non-issue. Things could have gotten really out of hand for the home team in the seventh, when the Astros loaded the bases with only one out on a Bregman double, a Yordan walk, and a Reddick single, but Diaz legging out what looked like it might be a double play ball wound up driving in the only run.
The final nail in the coffin, though, was the nine-batter top of the eighth. Martín Maldonado took a leadoff walk, then Kyle Tucker brought him in with his second career home run going to right field.
Turn and burn! #TakeItBack pic.twitter.com/abH4KPhNJr— Houston Astros (@astros) September 15, 2019
Another walk, this one to Jake Marisnick, was also punished when Straw tripled to right as well, then Josh Reddick picked up his first career five-hit game with a single to plate Myles.
So in addition to Miley looking better, it was everything you would want to see out of the offense as well. All of the young guys had good days, between Tucker’s homer, Straw’s triple, and Toro going 2-5 with a double and three RBI. Alex Bregman did Alex Bregman things, hitting his 35th double on the year and picking up his 109th walk, moving him to two behind Mike Trout for the league lead. Yuli went 2-4 with his homer. But the MVP had to be Josh Reddick, with that 5-5 line being hard to top.
The win gives Astros the sweep in Kansas City, and moves them to 98-53 on the season. With the Yankees’ loss earlier today, the Astros are now tied for the best record in the league, and their magic number is down to 5. On top of that, Houston is just five wins from tying last year’s franchise-best 103 wins with 11 to play. The Astros will try and extend their three-game winning streak on Tuesday against the Rangers, when Cy Young candidates Justin Verlander and Lance Lynn square off in Minute Maid Park starting at 7:10 Central Time.