KANSAS CITY -- When Astros slugger Evan Gattis stepped to the plate in the sixth inning against Royals starter Jakob Junis on Friday night with the bases loaded, his teammates couldn't help but sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what might happen. They were right.Gattis continued
KANSAS CITY -- When Astros slugger Evan Gattis stepped to the plate in the sixth inning against Royals starter Jakob Junis on Friday night with the bases loaded, his teammates couldn't help but sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation of what might happen. They were right.
Gattis continued his torrid run by hitting his second career grand slam to send the streaking Astros to their season-high ninth consecutive win, 7-3, at Kauffman Stadium.
"Honestly, we all were expecting him to do damage," said third baseman Alex Bregman, who hit a solo homer off Junis in the fourth inning. "I think everybody in the dugout, there was a little bit of a buzz, saying, 'All right, Gatty might hit a grand slam and keep those big RBI games up.' He's killing it."
• Grand slams mean 40% off pizza
Gattis clubbed a 2-2 fastball from Junis and launched it a projected 405 feet, according to Statcast™, over the wall in left-center to score Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick and put the Astros ahead, 6-3. Gattis' only other career grand slam came in 2013 while he was with the Braves.
"In that situation, after seeing so many sliders, I was going to give myself a chance at one," said Gattis, who struck out looking the first two at-bats against Junis and later added a double. "I'm glad he threw a first-pitch ball on a fastball. I had a good swing on the slider, and then once it was two strikes, I was trying to guess and playing along with him."
The Astros (46-25) improved to 8-0 on their season-long 10-game road trip with weekend games remaining against the Royals. The Astros are 27-11 on the road and have at least 12 hits in five consecutive games.
"We like winning and we have fun with it," manager AJ Hinch said. "I like that our guys are just methodically going through our day. This is a long road trip and it's a lot more fun to have these long road trips when you're winning."
Gattis has 13 homers and 38 RBIs since May 12, a span of 28 games, to tie George Springer for the club lead in homers (14) and pass Correa for the team lead in RBIs (46). He has five homers and 18 RBIs on the road trip and leads the Majors in road RBIs (37).
"Fourteen ribbies in four games is something you dream about," Bregman said. "It's fun to watch. He's an unbelievable teammate, too. You see everybody's reaction in the dugout when he does it. It's awesome."
That was enough offense for Astros starter Charlie Morton (8-1), who bounced back from a pair of shaky outings to hold the Royals to three runs and four hits in six innings while striking out nine. He joins three teammates with at least eight wins -- Lance McCullers and Gerrit Cole have eight, and Justin Verlander has nine.
"I wasn't really panicking" Morton said. "I wasn't really thinking I was in desperate need of a good outing. There was a couple of games where I didn't throw the ball well and needed to make some adjustments. I think I made some decent adjustments, made some good pitches."
Morton walked four batters, giving him 10 in his last two starts. He walked a career-high six and hit four more in his previous start on Saturday at Texas, but he retired the first seven he faced on Friday. Mike Moustakas hit a two-run double off Morton in the third to open the scoring, and Morton walked in a run in the fifth to give Kansas City a 3-2 lead.
"I thought he grinded really well," Hinch said. "He had a couple of walks in there where it could have unraveled and he continued to stay under control."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Morton was teetering after walking three consecutive batters in the fifth inning, including a free pass to Moustakas that forced home the go-ahead run. Facing Salvador Perez, Morton got him to ground into a 5-4-3 double play that ended the inning and kept the Royals from breaking it open.
"It is big because that's the part of the game that can unravel on you a little bit," Hinch said. "We didn't want the big at-bat to come in the top to middle of their order, and we found every time we walked the bottom of their order, here comes [Whit Merrifield], here comes [Moustakas], here comes Perez. Obviously, getting out of that with minimal damage and still within striking distance, a huge play."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Correa hit a mammoth 455-foot blast to left that was 112.8-mph off the bat, according to Statcast™, in the fourth. It was the second-hardest hit of his career, trailing only a 113.5-mph blast on April 6, 2016. It was also his fifth-longest homer. More >
HE SAID IT
"He's been awesome and his confidence is sky high. His breaking ball is really good and his split he threw to Perez tonight is the swing-and-miss split that he's had." -- Hinch, on lefty reliever Tony Sipp, who struck out two in the eighth
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Astros got a call overturned in the seventh inning. Reddick was initially ruled out at first base on a grounder to third baseman Moustakas, but the replay showed Reddick beat the throw to the bag.
Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 4.45 ERA) will look to snap a personal three-game losing streak when he takes the ball at 1:15 p.m. CT on Saturday against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. After posting a 3.10 ERA in his first nine starts, Keuchel is 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA in his past five starts. Lefty Danny Duffy (3-6, 5.28) will start for Kansas City.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.