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Houston Offense Stuck in Neutral

The last-place Kansas City Royals shut out the first-place Houston Astros at Kauffmann Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Astros and Royals would have to wait a minute before getting started at Kauffmann Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Slated to start just after three, it would be a little after four before first pitch.

For Houston, Luis Garcia made his 10th start of the season. Coming in, he was 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.068 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, and an opposing slashline of .204/.266/.381. His opponent, Kris Bubic, was making his sixth start and seventh overall appearance of the season.

Although Bubic’s stats weren’t nearly as impressive, (0-3, 12.83, 2.250, 6.8, .333/.441/.684, respectively), he managed to match zeroes against Garcia through five innings. The Astros did manage to stretch Bubic out to 98 offerings over his five frames, of which only 52 were over the plate. Bubic gave up five hits, three walks, struck out three, and allowed zero runs.

After Collin Snider continued to keep the Astros off the board in the top of the sixth, Garcia came out to attempt to put up his sixth zero of the night. Whit Merrifield led off with a single, then after two outs, Salvador Perez went deep for the seventh time this season.

Trailing 2-0, the Astros went quietly in the seventh inning, and Garcia, Quality Start in pocket, came out for the seventh time. He got through it unscathed, and finished the night by getting 55-of-91 in the black. He walked one, struck out two, and allowed two earned runs on four hits.

The eighth inning would again see the Astros come and go without a threat. Rafael Montero took the hill for the eighth, then the wheels came off. Montero allowed two earned runs on four hits, striking out one over 23 of an inning before he was pulled in favor of Bryan Abreu. Abreu allowed both of his inherited runners to score, and those two runs were also earned and charged to Montero, whose ERA ballooned to 2.11.

Houston’s offense only managed five hits in the game. Michael Brantley led with a single and a double. Alex Bregman, Yordan Álvarez and Kyle Tucker pitched in with a single each. The Astros got all of their hits off Bubic through the first five innings. Yuli Gurriel left seven runners on base, going 0-for-4.

The Astros dropped to 34-19 for the season (still in first by a wide margin), while the Royals improved to 17-34 (still in last by a wide margin). Tomorrow at 1:10 PM, the two will play the rubber match. It’ll be Framber Valdez (5-2, 2.57) versus Jonathan Heasley (0-2, 4.66).