The reverberations of hands cracking hands echoed through the nearly empty confines of Minute Maid Park. Mike Moustakas provided one concussive stroke for the Royals in a 6-4 victory Wednesday over the Astros, a go-ahead solo home run in the 11th inning.

Inside the dugout, the noise created by his high-fives revealed his relief. He stepped to the plate with a batting average below .100 and a fanbase hollering for either a demotion or a benching or worse. For a few brief moments, Moustakas alone created the noise.

“It felt great,” Moustakas said. “Slow start or no slow start, it’s a big win for us.”

In turn, the Royals won for the second night in a row. With a victory on Thursday evening, they can exit a road that begin in such hellish fashion with a .500 record.

Before Moustakas went deep, to right field for his first home run of the year, Danny Duffy authored a tremendous relief outing. He is floating without a precise role in a bullpen filled with pitchers in similar situations. On Wednesday, manager Ned Yost asked him to hold a deadlock starting in the ninth inning, to provide innings until this scuffling offense delivered a run.

Working with a useful slider and an upper-90s fastball, Duffy overwhelmed the Astros. He struck out four in two dynamic innings. The Royals tacked on an insurance run in the 11th. Greg Holland collected his fifth save, but Duffy still stood out.

“That’s what we talked about, having a power arm that can come into a ballgame,” Yost said. “Especially a tie game like that, and give you an opportunity to battle back and put a run on the board.”