(Photo credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Nelson Velazquez produced his second career multi-homer game and the Kansas City Royals capped a stunning three-game road series sweep of the reeling Houston Astros with a 6-5 victory on Sunday.
The Royals (54-102) notched their sixth consecutive win and 10th in 11 games, with five of those victories coming against the stumbling Astros (85-71), who have dropped nine of 12 games since taking a 21/2-game lead in the American League West with a win over the San Diego Padres on Sept. 10. Houston lost 17 of its last 23 home games and finished the season 39-42 at Minute Maid Park.
The Royals clubbed four homers off Astros rookie right-hander Hunter Brown (11-13), who retired the side in order in the first inning before suddenly coming undone in the second.
Velazquez ignited the uprising with his 16th home run leading off the second, a 380-foot shot to right-center field with an exit velocity of 103.5 miles per hour. His blast pulled the Royals even at 1-1 but that deadlock was shortlived as three batters later, Matt Duffy smashed his second home run to left-center, driving home Nick Loftin and lifting the Royals to a 3-1 advantage.
Brown needed 33 pitches to complete the second inning. And after the Astros clawed to within 3-2 in the bottom of that frame on a run-scoring groundout from Jose Altuve, Brown surrendered another three-spot in the third that pushed the Astros into a four-run hole.
Royals captain Salvador Perez, fresh off reinstatement from the seven-day concussion list, followed a Bobby Witt Jr. leadoff walk with a 410-foot blast to left, his 22nd home run extending the lead to 5-2. Velazquez followed with a shot off the facade of the second deck in right for his 17th home run and first multi-homer game since July 22, 2022, against the Philadelphia Phillies while playing for the Chicago Cubs. Velazquez finished 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.
Brown allowed six runs on six hits and one walk with four strikeouts over six innings.
The Astros again were undone by their lack of timely hitting, going 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Houston loaded the bases with no outs in the third but only managed RBI groundouts from Chas McCormick and Yainer Diaz. Yordan Alvarez socked his 29th home run two innings later to cut the deficit to one run, but three Royals relievers covered the last eight outs while keeping the Astros scoreless.
James McArthur worked around a one-out Altuve single in the ninth for his third save, sending the Astros to defeat with a strikeout of Alvarez.
--Field Level Media