Royals win seventh straight with Astros sweep: Bobby Witt Jr. continues stellar start, rotation stars again

Royals win seventh straight with Astros sweep: Bobby Witt Jr. continues stellar start, rotation stars again

The hottest team in baseball? That would be the upstart Kansas City Royals, winners of seven straight games after bludgeoning the Houston Astros on Thursday afternoon (KC 13, HOU 3). Thursday’s win completed the three-game sweep, and prior to that, the Royals swept four games from the admitted weak Chicago White Sox.

Kansas City took the mystery out of Thursday’s game early, hanging nine runs on Astros starter Hunter Brown in the first inning. Brown allowed 11 hits and got only two outs, making him the first pitcher in history to allow 11 hits in a game without pitching a full inning. Maikel Garcia and Bobby Witt Jr. each had two hits in the first inning. Witt capped the scoring with a two-run homer.

Here is the first inning carnage:

Witt added a three-run home run in the seventh inning. All told, he went 4 for 5 with two homers, four runs scored, and five runs driven in Thursday. Witt entered the game with a stout .313/.377/.625 batting line and exited with an exemplary .358/.414/.755 line. It’s only 13 games, sure, but Witt had a breakout season a year ago, and is already building on it early in 2024.

Brady Singer allowed one run in five innings Thursday and Kansas City’s starters now have a 1.97 ERA, second only to the revamped Boston Red Sox, and they’re averaging a league-best 6.0 innings per start. Free agent additions Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha have a combined 1.76 ERA in 30 2/3 innings. Singer and ace Cole Ragans have been excellent as well.

The Royals had a seven-game winning streak from July 28 to Aug. 4 last season. Prior to that, they had not won seven games in a row since 2017, when they won nine straight games from July 17-28. They’ll now go on the road to face a New York Mets team that blew out the Atlanta Braves on Thursday (NYM 16, ATL 4), and is 5-2 since their 0-5 start.

Thursday’s win improved the Royals to 9-4, the American League’s third-best record behind the idle New York Yankees (10-3) and Cleveland Guardians (9-3). The Royals have won nine of their first 13 games for the first time since 2016. A win against the Mets on Friday would give Kansas City 10 wins in the first 14 games since the 2015 World Series team started 11-3. 

As for the Astros, they are now 4-10, their worst 14-game start since going 4-10 to begin the 2013 season. Houston lost 111 games that year and was in the middle of their hard tanking era. Even before Thursday’s blowout, Astros pitchers ranked 20th in baseball with a 4.42 ERA. That jumped to a 5.09 ERA after Thursday’s game, better than only the Colorado Rockies (6.57 ERA).

Injuries (Justin Verlander, José Urquidy, Framber Valdez, etc.) and a lack of depth have taken a toll on the Astros. Verlander, who has been slowed by an achy shoulder, will make another minor league rehab start this coming weekend. He could rejoin a rotation that badly needs someone who can provide innings next week.

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