Astros secure a series win against the Royals

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 2 hits from the 6-1 win

Astros Daily Report
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Houston was able to erase the sting of the three straight losses to Oakland earlier in the week by taking the first of three games against the Royals in Kansas City on Friday night to get back on track. They had Zack Greinke on the mound Saturday night to try and lock up the series. Here is a recap of the game:

Final Score: Astros 6, Royals 1.

Record: 97-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (16-5, 2.95 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Mike Montgomery (3-9, 4.70 ERA).

1) Another tightly contested game early

There was just two runs scored in the first half of the game on Saturday, one for each team. The first was by the Royals off of Zack Greinke; they got a leadoff single in the bottom of the third followed by an RBI-double to take a 1-0 lead. Alex Bregman immediately tied things up in the top of the fourth for Houston, though, hammering a solo home run to make it 1-1.

The Astros took their first lead of the night in the top of the sixth, getting runners on first and third to set up an RBI-single for Kyle Tucker. Houston had a great chance to break the game open after that, loading the bases with no outs, but would leave all three runners stranded in a disappointing end to the inning.

The run that Kansas City scored against Greinke would be his only allowed in his night of work. He had another great start, finishing six innings and leaving in line for the win. His final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 0 HR.

2) Astros extend their lead in the eighth to put things away

With Greinke's night over, Hector Rondon was first out of Houston's bullpen to pitch the bottom of the seventh. He recorded a scoreless inning, retiring Kansas City in order. In the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker got his fourth hit of the night with a leadoff single, then Robinson Chirinos worked a walk to put two on base for a pinch-hitting Yordan Alvarez. He took advantage of the opportunity, drilling a ball to straight center-field for a three-run homer to extend Houston's lead to 5-1.

Joe Smith took over for Rondon with the four-run lead in the bottom of the eighth, and he too was able to hold the Royals scoreless. In the top of the ninth, the Astros extended their lead after an intentional walk to Kyle Tucker loaded the bases for Robinson Chirinos, who delivered an RBi-single to make it 6-1.

With the lead now at five runs, Houston went to Bryan Abreu to try and finish things off in the bottom of the ninth. He would get two outs, but with a couple of runners on would pass the ball to Will Harris who recorded the final out. The win secured the series win and gave Houston a chance for a sweep on Sunday afternoon.

Up Next: Houston and Kansas City will wrap up this series with the finale on Sunday at 1:15 PM. Wade Miley (13-5, 3.74 ERA) will try to finally rebound from two horrible starts in his last two outings and get back on track to be the Astros' fourth starter in their playoff rotation. He'll go opposite of Jakob Junis (9-13, 5.06 ERA) for the Royals.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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Will robot umps improve baseball? Composite Getty Images.

Major League Baseball could test robot umpires as part of a challenge system in spring training next year, which could lead to regular-season use in 2026.

MLB has been experimenting with the automated ball-strike system in the minor leagues since 2019 but is still working on the shape of the strike zone.

“I said at the owners meeting it is not likely that we would bring ABS to the big leagues without a spring training test. OK, so if it’s ’24 that leaves me ’25 as the year to do your spring training test if we can get these issues resolved, which would make ’26 a viable possibility,” baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday during a meeting with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. "But is that going to be the year? I’m not going to be flat-footed on that issue.

“We have made material progress. I think that the technology is good to a 100th of an inch. The technology in terms of the path of the ball is pluperfect.”

Triple-A ballparks have used ABS this year for the second straight season, but there is little desire to call the strike zone as the cube defined in the rule book and MLB has experimented with modifications during minor league testing.

The ABS currently calls strikes solely based on where the ball crosses the midpoint of the plate, 8.5 inches from the front and the back. The top of the strike zone was increased to 53.5% of batter height this year from 51%, and the bottom remained at 27%.

"We do have technical issues surrounding the definition of the strike zone that still need to be worked out,” Manfred said.

After splitting having the robot alone for the first three games of each series and a human with a challenge system in the final three during the first 2 1/2 months of the Triple-A season, MLB on June 25 switched to an all-challenge system in which a human umpire makes nearly all decisions.

Each team currently has three challenges in the Pacific Coast League and two in the International League. A team retains its challenge if successful, similar to the regulations for big league teams with video reviews.

“The challenge system is more likely or more supported, if you will, than the straight ABS system,” players' association head Tony Clark said earlier Tuesday at a separate session with the BBWAA. "There are those that have no interest in it at all. There are those that have concerns even with the challenge system as to how the strike zone itself is going to be considered, what that looks like, how consistent it is going to be, what happens in a world where Wi-Fi goes down in the ballpark or the tech acts up on any given night.

“We’re seeing those issues, albeit in minor league ballparks," Clark added. "We do not want to end up in a world where in a major league ballpark we end up with more questions than answers as to the integrity of that night’s game or the calls associated with it.”

Playing rules changes go before an 11-member competition committee that includes four players, an umpire and six team representatives. Ahead of the 2023 season, the committee adopted a pitch clock and restrictions on defensive shifts without support from players.

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