Medlen baffles Rasmus to escape jam

Righty wraps up first outing with key 5th-inning strikeout

Medlen baffles Rasmus to escape jam

HOUSTON -- The two most important pitches for Royals right-hander Kris Medlen were his last two Tuesday night in a 3-2 win over the Astros.

Medlen, likely down to his final batter, faced the dangerous Colby Rasmus with two on and two out in the fifth and the Royals clinging to a 3-2 lead. Medlen had just walked George Springer and Carlos Correa.

"Their entire lineup is pretty dangerous," Medlen said. "They got three or four guys in a row who are pretty deadly. I wanted to be a little careful with Correa and Springer, and I didn't get some calls that were pretty close."

That brought up Rasmus, who tortured the Royals with three homers in their American League Division Series last season and already had homered and doubled in this series. Medlen fell behind 3-1 and then froze Rasmus with a slider for a strike.

Medlen then dropped a curve that was inside and low. Rasmus couldn't lay off and struck out swinging.

Medlen left the mound with a fist pump and a little jump.

"I don't do that often," Medlen said. "But that was big.

"I got Rasmus up there, and it's 3-1, and I threw a decent breaking pitch that I needed to do. Came back with that 3-2 curve that got him swinging. Rasmus absolutely kills us. He's been swinging a hot bat."

The 3-2 curve off the plate actually was by design.

"I was to the point where I needed to pull a rabbit out of my hat," Medlen said. "I felt like I had nothing much there to get him out with."

Medlen, who hadn't pitched since the last week of Spring Training because of the Royals' funky first week of scheduling, gave up two runs in a shaky first but struck out seven for the game.

"There's not much wiggle room in that lineup," Medlen said. "I just tried to navigate the situations. A couple of innings were pretty stressful, the first and the last one. I haven't thrown that many pitches the last two weeks.

"The truth is I was just excited to be out there and being a baseball player again."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.