MLB

Royals, Junis will try to cool off ridiculously hot Astros

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Houston Astros rank first in the American League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

They top the league in runs, hits, total bases, home runs and RBIs. They hit two more home runs Monday, bringing their total to 92, in a 7-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

"It's a very high-powered offense," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Normally, when we get pre-series scouting report stuff, you go up and down and there may be two guys or three guys that would be classified as hot.

"They've got like seven over there. I said, like, 'Wow, they've got a lot of red on that sheet.' It all boils down to execution and changing speeds."

In Game 2 of the series Tuesday, the Astros will be going for their 12th consecutive victory, which would tie the franchise record set in 2004. They have outscored their opponents 89-39 during the streak.

The Astros have scored at least six runs in eight consecutive games. They have homered in 13 games in a row, and they own the best record in the majors, 42-16. Houston holds a whopping 14-game lead in the AL West.

Meanwhile, the Royals (24-32) continue to struggle, and they are in last place in the AL Central.

Into that setting strides Jake Junis, whom the Royals will recall from Triple-A Omaha to make his second big-league start and fourth overall appearance Tuesday against the Astros.

In his last Pacific Coast League start June 1, Junis allowed one run on three hits while striking out nine and walking none in six innings at Memphis. In his previous start May 26 at Nashville, the right-handerstruck out 12 and walked one while yielding two hits in seven scoreless innings at Nashville.

The Nashville and Memphis lineups, however, did not have George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa, Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez. The Astros' batting order does. And that is the lineup Junis mustnavigate.

Junis is 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three games with Kansas City. In his lone major league start, hegave up two runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings at Minnesota on May 21.

In Triple-A, he walked eight and struck out 57 in 44 2/3 innings. He has walked seven and struck out six in 6 2/3 innings in the majors.

"It's availability with guys on the roster that have been doing good and are available to pitch. He met all of that criteria," Yost said of starting Junis.

The Astros will start rookie right-hander David Paulino, who began the season on the disabled list due to arm inflammation. He will be making his third big-league start and his second of the season.

Paulino started May 31 at Minnesota and allowed two runs on five hits over four innings. He struck out eight and walked one. He became just the third pitcher in franchise history to strike out at least eight while pitching four innings or fewer.

"He's going to need to use his secondary pitches against this (Kansas City) team," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They chase a lot. They swing a lot and subsequently chase a lot. I think his fastball command's going to have to be the next step for him.

"He threw a lot of breaking balls, threw a pretty good changeup, a better changeup than I expected in Minnesota. His fastball command was a little spotty. When you're going to be a starting pitcher in this league, I think that's something you're going to need. Whether you use it a lot is one thing, but being able to throw your fastball for strikes sets up your ability to put away teams that swing a lot."