Springer's surge continues, sparking fifth straight win
Astros rookie hits sixth homer in six games; Carter goes deep twice
KANSAS CITY -- A lesson was learned this week: even cavernous Kauffman Stadium, home of the vaunted Royals pitching staff, cannot contain the power of George Springer.
Springer skied a first-inning two-run homer and reached base four times to help the Astros complete a three-game sweep of Kansas City with a 9-3 win Wednesday.
The rookie sensation, fresh off a three-home run series against the Mariners, terrorized the Royals and scoffed at their notoriously pitcher-friendly confines, finishing the series 6-for-11 with two home runs, two doubles, five RBIs, eight runs scored and four walks.
Springer has now gone deep in five of his last six games, with six total home runs during that span. Springer's ninth homer of May set the franchise rookie record for home runs in a single month, set previously by Glenn Davis (eight) in September 1985.
"He continues to swing a hot bat, and, again, what's impressive is that he's attacking the right pitches," Astros manager Bo Porter said.
Houston extended its winning streak to five games and improved its record to 10-5 in its last 15 games. The Astros finished their 10-game, 10-day road trip 6-4.
"Any time you go to three cities and end up 6-4 on a 10-day road trip, that's a good job, all the way around," Porter said.
The three-game sweep of a floundering Royals team was decisive.
Houston outscored Kansas City, 21-5, collected 39 hits compared to the Royals' 22 and drew 14 more walks.
Astros starters allowed three runs in 18 innings (1.50 ERA). Royals starters allowed 11 runs in 12 2/3 (7.82).
"They outplayed us, plain and simple. We're not swinging the bats well, and that's the bottom line," Kansas City manager Ned Yost said.
Porter offset Royals starter Danny Duffy's effectiveness against left-handed batters (1-for-23 entering the game) by implementing an entirely right-handed lineup Wednesday.
Chris Carter, who sat out the last three games, made a loud return to the lineup with a pair of home runs -- a solo shot in the fifth, then a three-run blast in the sixth. His home runs accounted for the Astros' last four runs.
"His power was on display today," Porter said.
After leading the team in homers last season, Carter entered the game hitting just .192 with six home runs.
Hitting coach John Mallee and assistant hitting coach Ralph Dickenson worked with Carter on mechanical issues with his swing during his three games on the bench.
"Contact points, I think that's one of the things that they stressed to him," Porter said. "And you look at today, he got two pitches out front, and if he touches them out front, with his strength and his bat speed, [there aren't] many ballparks that can hold him."
Starter Jarred Cosart earned the win, allowing two runs (one earned) over five innings. He allowed four hits to go with two walks and struck out one.
Porter pulled Cosart after five innings with his pitch count at 95. Relievers Jerome Williams, Darin Downs and Kyle Farnsworth patrolled the final four innings, allowing one run.
"Just looking at his pitch count, there was no sense in throwing him back out there for the sixth," Porter said.
Robbie Grossman made a pair of run-saving catches for Cosart in left field -- First, in the fourth, to rob Pedro Ciriaco of a hit, then, he stole an RBI away from Alex Gordon with a running grab.
"Two great plays, he saved some runs," Cosart said. "He was in great position, obviously [the staff] works hard with all the shifts and where they play people."
Springer's round-tripper in the series opener was a no-doubter. Conversely, the two-run shot in the first inning Wednesday towered in the air off the bat and landed in the first row of the bleachers in left-center field, out of the reach of leaping center fielder Jarrod Dyson to put the Astros up, 2-0.
In the second inning, Springer displayed another trait that made him a blue chip prospect: his patience.
Springer came up with two runners on and two outs and quickly fell behind, 1-2. He worked the count full, then left a Duffy curveball low for ball four.
One batter later, Dexter Fowler smacked a two-run single to put Houston up, 4-0.
"The walk was impressive to me," Porter said. "He gets 3-2, he's obviously geared up, he's seeing the ball extremely well, he's recognizing spin and that's why he's able to hit the ball with the authority that he's hitting it with, because he's getting pitches he can handle and he's putting good swings on [them]."
Carlos Corporan (3-for-4, double, walk) knocked in the fifth run for the Astros, with an RBI double.
Second baseman Jose Altuve snapped his franchise-record streak of 88 errorless games, dropping a popup in the sixth inning.