Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop back-and-forth game to Royals to open four-game series

Jake Odorizzi couldn't hold down the Royals in Monday's opener. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

With their four-game winning streak snapped in the finale against the Angels on Sunday, the Astros moved on to their next series, a four-game set against the Royals starting Monday in Kansas City. Instead of creating a new winning streak, they'd drop the back-and-forth opener to make it a two-game losing streak.

Final Score: Royal 7, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 70-48, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Scott Barlow (5-3)

Losing Pitcher: Yimi Garcia (3-8)

Trading blows early

Houston started the game by shifting the momentum in their favor, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after a leadoff double by Jose Altuve set up a two-out RBI single by Yordan Alvarez. That started a back-and-forth battle, though, with the Royals responding with a two-run go-ahead bottom of the second, getting four hits including a one-out RBI double and two-out RBI single to go ahead 2-1 on Jake Odorizzi.

They tagged Odorizzi with another run in the third, taking advantage of back-to-back walks to start the inning with a one-out RBI single to extend their lead to 3-1. While Houston's starter settled back in, his offense helped get him off of the hook in the top of the fifth. Aledmyz Diaz started the frame with a solo homer, then with two outs, Michael Brantley delivered an RBI single to knot it up 3-3.

Odorizzi's night comes to a rough end

After a scoreless bottom of the fifth by Odorizzi, Carlos Correa put the Astros back in front with a 430-foot go-ahead solo homer to lead off the top of the sixth. Kansas City answered to keep the slugfest going, though, getting a one-out solo shot in the bottom of the inning to end Odorizzi's night with a no-decision. His final line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 89 P.

Astros come up short and drop the opener

The first reliever out of the Astros' bullpen was Phil Maton, who finished the sixth for Odorizzi by retiring the two batters he faced. Ryne Stanek took over in the bottom of the seventh, but after watching a leadoff walk move to third on two stolen bases, he allowed a go-ahead RBI single to put the Royals back in front 5-4. Once again, things got tied up as a pinch-hitting Taylor Jones in the top of the eighth reached on a one-out double, then scored on a two-out RBI single by Aledmys Diaz, who would get caught between first and second to end the inning.

Yimi Garcia was the next reliever for Houston, but after two outs, he gave up three straight hits, the third a two-RBI single by Salvador Perez to put the Royals back on top 7-5. Despite Jason Castro getting the Astros within a run with a solo home run with one out in the top of the ninth, that's as close as they'd come as Kansas City would close things out to take the opener.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. Framber Valdez (8-3, 3.09 ERA) will try to get the win for the Astros, while the Royals are expected to send Daniel Lynch (2-3, 5.97 ERA) to the mound.

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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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