Austin Schuster- 23 sports

Up until now, the 2021 season has been a roller coaster ride for the Kansas City Royals. On May 2, the Royals held the best record in baseball at 16-9. An 11-game losing streak immediately followed the team from their 16-9 start, and they have never seemed to fully recover. The team has not been at or above .500 since June 8. The Royals did have a nice little 6-game win streak from July 20-26, but the team was already too far under .500 for it to make much of a difference. Now, here in late August, the team has ridden a combination of winning and losing streaks and now sits in fourth place in the AL Central Division at 56-70.

Every season has its ups, and this one is no exception. Kansas City was represented by two players at the MLB All-Star Game in Denver on July 13. Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield both made appearances in the game, going a combined 0-4. Perez also participated in the Home Run Derby, whacking a whopping 28 home runs in the first round, but falling to the mighty Pete Alonso. Perez also set a career high in home runs with 34 on the season so far.

The Royals and Astros finished off a three-game series in Houston, with the opening game coming Monday night. Kansas City bested Houston in the opening game of the series 7-1. Rookie Daniel Lynch pitched for the Royals against veteran Zack Greinke, a former Royal himself, pitching for Houston. Lynch threw a fantastic game, twirling five innings and allowing just one run, six hits, and striking out five. He was able to get the win which pushed his season record over .500 at 4-3. Greinke took the tough-luck loss, going six innings and allowing two runs. On the offensive side, the only run of the night for Houston came on an RBI double from Yuli Gurriel, which scored Taylor Jones. Meanwhile, the Royals pushed across seven runs on the night. Ryan O’Hearn scored in the second off a ground-rule double down the line in right field hit by Emmanuel Rivera. Perez swatted a solo homer the next inning to increase the lead. A few timely hits, coupled with an interesting play in the top of the 7th that involved Perez grounding out to the pitcher only to reach on a throwing error, led to the rest of the runs on the night. Whit Merrifield finished 3-5 with 3 RBIs on the night, and Rivera was 3-4 with 2 RBIs. Perez also went 2-3.
Tuesday night’s game saw Kansas City’s Brady Singer square off against Luis Garcia. Garcia pitched 6.2 shutout innings, to allow four hits while striking out seven. Singer only pitched five innings, allowing seven hits and four runs. The first run was unearned due to a throwing error by shortstop Nicky Lopez in the bottom of the 1st. Carlos Correa drove in 2 runs on the night, and Aledmys Diaz drove in the other earned run, as the Astros won 4-0 in game two of the series.

Wednesday’s game had almost everything you could want in a rubber match. Mike Minor pitched against Lance McCullers Jr. Houston scored first on the night in the bottom of the third with a solo homer by Martin Maldonado. Perez returned the favor for KC the very next half-inning with one of his own to tie it up. Adding to the pattern, in the next half-inning, Yordan Alvarez gave Houston the lead again with yet another solo homer. Alex Bregman added another run to that lead with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth. Everything was looking up for the Astros… until Merrifield stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded in the top of the 7th. On the first pitch thrown by a Houston reliever on the day, he crushed a grand slam into the Crawford Boxes to give the Royals a 5-3 lead. The Royals’ momentum didn’t last more than two innings before Astros tied it up again with RBI singles by Diaz and Michael Brantley. It didn’t take long for Houston to win it, as Jake Meyers scored Bregman with an RBI groundout in the bottom of the 10th to give Houston the 6-5 victory.
Trash cans or no trash cans, the Astros won the series 2-1, although the Royals did take the season series from Houston 4-3. Kansas City now heads to Seattle to take on the Mariners for a four-game series beginning Thursday night.