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Astros Pitching Looks Sharp: Take 1st Summer Exhibition Game with Royals 6-3.

McCullers dominant in five innings. Reddick and Maldonado homers provide the offense.

MLB: Exhibition-Houston Astros at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

In the first of only two warm-up games before the Astros’ season begins Friday, the story tonight was Lance McCullers. After missing last year with Tommy John surgery, he’s baaaack.

Lance threw five strong innings, allowing four hits, no walks and six strikeouts against something like the Royals’ opening day lineup. His only mistake was a solo homer to Salvador Perez in the fourth inning.

McCullers threw 76 pitches, 46 for strikes, 14 for whiffs. He used his whole arsenal, 31 2-seam fastballs, 26 curves, and 17 changeups. His fastball maxed out at 96.8 and averaged 93.5. That’s slightly below his 94.9 career average, but for a preseason game after 21 months of no pitching I think you can safely say he’s on track.

The Astros offense began early, as George Springer led off with a walk, and scored on an Alex Bregman double. The Astros added four more in the fourth on two homers, a two-run job by Josh Reddick just inches over the fence in right field, and a two-run smash by catcher Martin Maldonado.

Myles Straw reminded us of how exciting he is, manufacturing a run in the seventh by putting his speedy legs into hyper-drive to stretch a single into a double. He then stole third, and scored on a passed ball, closing the scoring for the Stros.

After McCullers’ departure in the fifth, Cy Sneed pitched three effective innings, marred by a Bubba Starling two-run homer. Blake Taylor closed the game with a scoreless ninth.

The Astros get another warm-up tomorrow in KC, the last before the season opener at Minute Maid Friday. Tomorrow’s game starts 1:05.

See box score HERE.