While the Houston Astros used the opener of this four-game set to break out of their woes with runners in scoring position, the Kansas City Royals saw their problems continue in those situations.
The Royals could have some difficulty fixing those problems Tuesday night considering how well Astros starter Mike Fiers has pitched at Minute Maid Park.
These teams have both struggled with runners in scoring position, with Kansas City (4-2) entering this series batting .200 with no homers and Houston (3-4) at .182. The Astros went 5 for 15 in Monday’s 8-2 victory in their home opener, including an RBI double by Carlos Correa and a two-run homer by Colby Rasmus that staked them to a 3-0 first-inning lead.
The Royals were 0 for 5 and were shut out until Kendrys Morales’ two-run homer in the eighth inning in the teams’ first meeting since Kansas City captured a dramatic AL division series in five games.
It may not be any easier against Fiers, who went 1-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four home starts for Houston last year after being acquired from Milwaukee on July 30. He had 24 strikeouts and limited batters to a .144 mark in those games, throwing the only no-hitter in the history of Minute Maid Park in a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 21.
Fiers made his lone career start versus Kansas City on June 17 for the Brewers, getting tagged for six runs in a 10-2 loss. Only one Royals hitter has more than three at-bats against him, with Omar Infante going 1 for 5.
The right-hander had a rough season debut Thursday, yielding five runs in five innings in an 8-5 road loss to the New York Yankees.
The Astros have been boosted by the early production of rookie Tyler White, who is 12 for 22 with three homers and nine RBIs after he had two hits Monday.
They will have another slugger available for his season debut in Evan Gattis, who has been out since having surgery Feb. 10 to repair a sports hernia. He was rehabbing with Double-A Corpus Christi before being activated after Monday’s game.
"It will be nice to get him back," manager A.J. Hinch told the Astros’ official website. "His presence will be good for us. It makes us closer to full strength."
Hinch said that Gattis will not catch Tuesday, meaning he should be the club’s designated hitter.
The Royals will give fifth starter Kris Medlen his season debut after he went 6-2 with a 4.01 ERA in 15 games – eight starts – in 2015. He missed the first half of the season after Tommy John surgery.
Medlen threw a simulated game Thursday after he registered a 5.94 ERA in five spring starts. He has a 3.64 career ERA before the All-Star break compared to 2.51 after.
The Astros hitter who has faced the right-hander most is backup catcher Erik Kratz, who is 2 for 6.
Kansas City’s three-game win streak ended Monday in its first road game since beating the New York Mets in Game 5 to capture the World Series. The Royals have lost four straight regular-season games at Houston.