The Houston Astros have had a rough time in interleague play in part because they played their first two series against the teams with the best records in baseball.
A matchup with the Kansas City Royals wasn’t the reprieve Houston was hoping for.
Following their most productive day at the plate in nearly three years, the Royals go for their fifth win in six games Wednesday night when they face Roy Oswalt(notes) and an Astros team that’s dropped six straight against the AL.
Houston (25-40) won its interleague opener 2-1 over Tampa Bay on May 21, but it’s lost six in a row since by a combined 51-26 score. The first five losses during the skid came against the Rays and the New York Yankees, who are tied for the best record in the majors at 41-23.
Visiting Kansas City (28-37) seemed like it might be a welcome change for Houston, but the Royals won the series opener 15-7 on Tuesday night, recording their highest run total since July 3, 2007.
Second baseman Mike Aviles(notes) went 4 for 5 with a career-high four RBIs and three runs scored as the Royals matched their season high with 20 hits. Kansas City scored seven runs in the fifth inning after it had two out, keyed by Yuniesky Betancourt’s(notes) bases-loaded double.
“Everybody in baseball will tell you the toughest RBI to get is with two out,” said first baseman Billy Butler(notes), who had three hits Tuesday and is 15 for 30 with a home run, six RBIs and seven runs in seven interleague games this season. “So you have to give a lot of credit to our hitters.”
The Astros will try to bounce back behind Oswalt (4-8, 3.16 ERA). The right-hander rebounded from his worst start of the season by holding Colorado to two runs and four hits and matching his season high with nine strikeouts in seven innings of a 5-4 win at Coors Field on Thursday.
Oswalt, who has won back-to-back starts just once this season from April 17-23, is 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA in four road starts. He’s also 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two career games against the Royals. He held them to one run while striking out eight in six innings last June, but the Astros fell 4-3 in 11 innings.
Kendall will likely start behind the plate for Bruce Chen(notes) (3-0, 4.01), who was effective early in his third start of the season Thursday, holding Minnesota to one run through six innings. But the veteran left-hander, who spent the first two months of the season as a reliever, was charged with four more runs in the seventh and the Royals barely held on to win 9-8.
Chen has a 2.65 ERA in nine career games against Houston, and he’s 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts. He hasn’t faced the Astros since beating them with seven scoreless innings June 14, 2005, while with Baltimore.