When the chronicle of Astros 2022 first half dominance is written, most of the credit must be ascribed to pitching excellence. But in the last two games the Astros have been winning in a more familiar manner...crushing the ball.
Tonight the Astros accumulated 13 hits, including two doubles and four homers. Every starter except the catcher had at least one hit, with Alex Bregman and Aledmys Diaz leading the way with three hits each, both a triple away from the cycle. And of course, Yordan Alvarez joined the fun with a late insurance homer of his own.
Astros starter Luis Garcia managed to earn the win despite allowing five runs in 6.1 innings. In a season where the pitching has picked up the hitting more often than not, it’s been fun to watch the hitting win some high scoring games.
The Royals started the scoring, needing only two singles to nick the scoreboard in the first off Astros starter Garcia. Whit Merrifield welcomed Garcia with a first pitch single, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Bobby Witt single.
The Royals added a run in the top of the second on a MJ Melendez homer, his third in two days, but the Astros tied the score in the bottom of the second. Alex Bregman opened with a double and moved to third on a Kyle tucker single. With one out Aledmys Diaz scored Bregman with a single and Jake Meyers scored Kyle tucker with a sac fly.
However, the Royals took another two-run lead on a Bobby Witt Jr. two-run homer in the third.
The Astros would cut the lead in half in the fourth inning but the Royals were lucky the Astros didn’t score a bunch more. Bregman led off with a single but was doubled off when Kyle Tucker hit a screaming rocket up the middle. Unfortunately for the Astros Kyle’s hit was right at shortstop Witt, who threw out Bregman who had strayed off the bag on first.
Still the Astros managed a two out rally as the Greinke magic wore off the second time through the lineup. Gurriel singled, Diaz doubled and Jake Meyers singled Diaz home. A Maldonado walk loaded the bases for Jose Altuve who unfortunately proceeded to hit a sharp grounder to third for the third out.
Greinke had no such luck in the fifth inning as a Jeremy Pena solo homer (his third in three games) and an Alex Bregman two-run shot gave the Astros a two run lead, 6-4.
WE WERE GONNA SAY TIE GAME.— Houston Astros (@astros) July 6, 2022
BUT LET US GO GET THE BREGGY CLIP. pic.twitter.com/SDX3aVe4HK
This offense, y'all. pic.twitter.com/SwCbRdSiGt— Houston Astros (@astros) July 6, 2022
In the sixth inning the Astros would again load the bases but an Alex Bregman flyout allowed Royals relief pitcher Jackson Kowar to escape unscathed.
The Royals benefitted from a rare Kyle Tucker miscue (first scored an error but later changed to a hit ) in the seventh inning as Kyle Isbel landed on third with no outs when Tucker missed catching Isbel’s playable line drive. Isbel scored on a Nicky Lopez single which chased pitcher Garcia.
Hector Neris put out the fire with the help of a good defensive putout in deep center field by Meyers to maintain the one-run lead.
Whatever hopes the Royals had of eventually surpassing the Astros seemed dashed when Aledmys Diaz made the score 8-5 with a two-run homer to the Crawford Boxes in the seventh.
Aledmys to the Crawford Boxes! pic.twitter.com/mR8a8DuuUB— Houston Astros (@astros) July 6, 2022
And then one of the strangest innings ever.
Another defensive miscue and a unique umpire review seemingly changed the Royals’ fortunes in the eighth. Bryan Abreu, in for Neris, hit Vinnie Pasquantino with a pitch but then seemingly got Hunter Dozier to hit into a 5-4-3 double play. However, the Royals successfully challenged both parts of the double play, as Altuve failed to touch the bag at second, and Dozier beat the throw at first.
So instead of two outs and no one on, it was two on and nobody out.
Abreu then walked Melendez, struck out Isbel, but walked in a run throwing four straight balls to Michael Taylor, bringing on reliever Phil Maton.
And then, just as the Astros had an apparent double play stolen from them, Yordan Alvarez made one of the most remarkable double plays this old writer has ever seen. Not known for defense, with this play Alvarez might start earning the moniker 5-tool.
Nicky Lopez hit a fly ball to deep left field, seemingly an automatic sac fly. But Alvarez got behind the ball, threw a ball 273 feet at 93.5 MPH in the air all the way to catcher Martin Maldonado, who tagged out Dozier for out three.
YORDAN ALVAREZ, DESIGNATED THROWER.#VoteAlvarez ⭐️ https://t.co/EJLM6C0ZsG pic.twitter.com/0Bk89ejbz5— Houston Astros (@astros) July 6, 2022
And then in the bottom of the eighth Alvarez got the run back for the Astros slugging yet another changeup out of the park, an oppo taco solo shot.
YORDAN ALVAREZ, DESIGNATED HITTER.#VoteAlvarez ⭐️ https://t.co/EJLM6C0ZsG pic.twitter.com/qjmNFtrQwW— Houston Astros (@astros) July 6, 2022
Rafael Montero saved it for the Astros allowing a lead off Whit Merrifield triple who eventually scored, but striking out the last two batters to secure the Astros’ eighth straight victory.