With four homers in the last three games, Houston's George Springer is showing why he's considered one of the top prospects in the majors.
While trying to add to that power surge, Springer attempts to help the Astros match their longest win streak of the season and avoid a seventh straight defeat to the Kansas City Royals on Monday night.
Springer had 65 homers in 284 minor league games before being called up April 16 but didn't hit one in his first 19 contests in the majors. He's found his groove since May 7, however, with seven homers in 15 games. He had a pair in Saturday's 9-4 win in Seattle while driving in a career-best five runs.
Springer had a go-ahead, two-run shot in the sixth inning of Sunday's series finale, a 4-1 victory.
"I'm just able to slow things down more and staying within myself, I guess, and not trying to go out and do something I can't do," he told the Astros' website. "I'm not trying to hit the eight-run home run anymore. I'm just going out and slowing down and trying to help the team win."
The outfielder has also lifted his batting average by 24 points to .246 by going 9 for 26 (.346) during a seven-game hit streak. He's struck out five times during that run after striking out 44 times in his first 108 at-bats.
The Astros (19-32) won three in a row May 17-19 before dropping four straight. They've averaged 1.8 runs in losing six straight to the Royals (24-25) since May 22, 2013, and scheduled starter Scott Feldman (2-2, 3.02 ERA) hasn't recorded a victory since April 6.
Feldman is 0-2 with a 5.57 ERA in his last four starts, with the last three coming after he returned from the disabled list (right biceps tendinitis) on May 9. The right-hander gave up eight runs in four-plus innings in Tuesday's 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels but only three were earned.
Feldman had a 0.44 ERA in his first three starts before a lackluster outing against Kansas City on April 17. He yielded five runs and nine hits in six innings of a 5-1 home loss then headed to the DL.
Feldman has a 2.65 ERA in three road outings this season, and is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA in six career starts at Kauffman Stadium.
He'll face a team that's dropped four of six and blew an early three-run lead Sunday in a 4-3 defeat to the Angels.
Norichika Aoki (elbow) and Danny Valencia (wrist) were kept out of the starting lineup, but Aoki came in as a pinch-runner in the ninth. Aoki, who is batting .400 with eight runs in his last eight games, is likely to start Monday, while Valencia is considered day-to-day.
"It's definitely not going to require a DL stint," Valencia told the team's website.
The Royals give the ball to rookie Yordano Ventura (2-4, 2.80), who has a 4.34 ERA while receiving four total runs of support in losing his last three starts.
The right-hander allowed four runs over six innings in Tuesday's 7-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox but was far more dominant April 15 at Minute Maid Park. He gave up two runs and four hits in seven innings of a 4-2 win over the Astros for his first major league win.
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