Astros let early lead slip as KC evens ALDS at 1-1
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Brian McTaggart
KANSAS CITY -- Ben Zobrist singled in the go-ahead run off Astros reliever Will Harris, scoring Alcides Escobar, and the Royals' bullpen tossed three scoreless innings in a pulsating 5-4 win on Friday at Kauffman Stadium as Kansas City evened the American League Division Series at 1-1.
KANSAS CITY -- Astros left fielder Colby Rasmus continued his hot start to the postseason Friday, using a double and a home run in a 5-4 Game 2 loss to the Royals in the American League Division Series to become the first player to have an extra-base hit in each of his first six postseason games.
Rasmus is hitting at an otherworldly rate, igniting an Astros offense that prides itself on getting production from multiple contributors. On Friday, seven of the club's starters picked up a hit, but it was Rasmus who again stole the spotlight, notching an RBI double in his first at-bat off Johnny Cueto to give the Astros an early one-run lead, before homering in his next at-bat in the third.
Astros outfielder hits two-run single in loss to Royals
By Chandler Rome
In a season plagued by injury but still full of spectacular outfield catches and, more recently, powerful swings, George Springer continues to carry over a streaky September into October -- just when the surging Astros need it the most.
With the bases loaded and one out against Royals starter Johnny Cueto in the Astros' eventual 5-4 loss in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, Springer kept his torrid pace in Kauffman Stadium, punching a two-run bloop single into shallow left field to give the Astros a 3-0 lead in the second inning for the second straight night.
KANSAS CITY -- After sitting on the bench for eight innings, Carlos Gomez pinch-ran at first base in the ninth, and he was going to do whatever he could to get to second. Gomez's eagerness wound up getting him picked off, and the Astros' rally fizzled in a 5-4 loss to the Royals on Friday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium.
Gomez hasn't started in either of the first two games of the ALDS because of a mild intercostal strain that's bothered him since Sept. 13. He pinch-ran for Preston Tucker, who drew a one-out walk, and was picked off by closer Wade Davis. Gomez was initially called safe, but the Royals challenged and replays clearly showed Eric Hosmer's tag beat him back to the bag.
The Royals overcame two three-run deficits to crack the Astros' bullpen, winning 5-4 on Friday behind a go-ahead hit from Ben Zobrist to knot the American League Division Series at 1-1 as it heads to Houston for Sunday's Game 3 (4 p.m. ET on MLB Network).
KANSAS CITY -- Minute Maid Park's roof will be closed when the Astros take the field Sunday for their first home postseason game since 2005.
Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan, who reached out to Major League Baseball this week about the roof policy, confirmed Friday that the roof will be closed for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Royals, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET Sunday on MLB Network. It's also expected to be closed for Game 4 on Monday. The league makes decisions about the roof in the postseason.
KANSAS CITY -- Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, undefeated in 18 regular-season home starts this season, will be the man on the mound at Minute Maid Park on Sunday (4 p.m. ET on MLB Network) for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Royals.
The best-of-five set is tied at one game apiece after Houston's 5-4 loss on Friday, and the Astros believe Keuchel's presence gives them an edge. The Astros will be opposed by Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez.
KANSAS CITY -- Craig Biggio wanted to be a part of the excitement.
After watching the Astros' Game 1 victory over the Royals in the American League Division Series on Thursday night from Houston, Biggio joined Astros minority partner John Havens and flew to Kansas City to take in Game 2 on Friday from Kauffman Stadium.
KANSAS CITY -- Astros manager A.J. Hinch has a good problem on his hands in the American League Division Series.
Houston has a surplus of center fielders, chief among them Carlos Gomez and Jake Marisnick. And though Gomez, who didn't start Game 1 while nursing a strained intercostal muscle, was expected back in the Astros' starting lineup for Game 2 against the host Royals on Friday -- a 5-4 loss that evened the series at 1-1 -- Hinch stuck with Marisnick.
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Brian McTaggart
KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps they don't know better. Maybe the Astros, behind a starting lineup Thursday night of nothing but players younger than 30, aren't aware that they're not supposed to treat the pressures of the postseason like a trip to the candy store.
The surprising Astros pulled off another clutch win by riding six strong innings from right-hander Collin McHugh and homers by George Springer and Colby Rasmus to stun last year's American League pennant-winning Royals, 5-2, at Kauffman Stadium in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.
KANSAS CITY -- While Astros manager A.J. Hinch was discussing why he wasn't starting banged-up outfielder Carlos Gomez prior to Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, he praised Jake Marisnick as the team's best defensive center fielder.
KANSAS CITY -- A 49-minute rain delay is just long enough to give a manager reason to not have his starting pitcher return to the mound when play resumes. It's also short enough for a manager to feel relatively confident his pitcher can keep pitching.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch picked the latter when deciding on the Game 1 fate of right-hander Collin McHugh. Citing a "soft rule" of about an hour when deciding if a pitcher could keep going when play resumed, Hinch said he never really considered not sending McHugh back out.
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros struck quickly in their first Division Series since 2005 and then didn't back down, jumping on hard-throwing righty Yordano Ventura early to set the tone for another crucial road win, a 5-2 Game 1 victory over the host Royals in this best-of-five set.
Houston has won eight of its past 10 games, including four of the past five in three time zones on the road, where the Astros struggled to win more times than not in the regular season, finishing 33-48 in games away from Minute Maid Park.
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros looked right at home at spacious Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night, using their power to distance themselves from Kansas City in Game 1 of the American League Division Series with home runs from George Springer and Colby Rasmus.
That the home runs were something of a bonus in the 5-2 victory speaks to Houston's ability to score runs in multiple ways, as evidenced by a two-run first inning that didn't even include an extra-base hit.
KANSAS CITY -- Center fielder Carlos Gomez wasn't in the starting lineup for Thursday night's Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. The Astros are being cautious with the lingering effects of his strained intercostal muscle, though manager A.J. Hinch said Gomez would be in the lineup for Friday's Game 2 at 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1.
"I'm a little sore, but tomorrow I'm going to be in," Gomez said. "My manager decided to give me a day."
KANSAS CITY -- A large contingent from the University of Central Missouri was on hand for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night in support of Astros owner Jim Crane, who played baseball for the school in Warrensburg, Mo., about 55 miles east of Kauffman Stadium.
Crane was a standout pitcher at what used to be Central Missouri State, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial safety in 1976. He was an honorable mention Division II All-American as a pitcher, going 21-8 with a 2.42 ERA in his collegiate days.
KANSAS CITY -- Veteran relief pitcher Chad Qualls wasn't listed on the roster for the Astros in their American League Division Series matchup against the Royals, which got underway tonight at Kauffman Stadium on FOX Sports 1.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch added starting pitchers Collin McHugh, who starts Game 1, Scott Kazmir, who goes in Game 2, and rookie Lance McCullers Jr., who could start in Game 4. The three pitchers were not on the roster for the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, which the Astros won, 3-0, over the Yankees.
KANSAS CITY -- Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan was impressed that one of the things that manager A.J. Hinch said when the club was interviewing him last year was that Hinch wanted the job so he could feel champagne burning in his eyes.
Q. A.J., was there any thought at all of pulling McHugh after that long rain delay?
A.J. HINCH: Not really. We've got a little bit of a soft rule of about an hour or so. It was starting to get to that point. But McHugh, it goes pitcher by pitcher. I think the key is knowing your guys, knowing a little bit of delivery, a little bit of arm action, a little bit of comfort with where he was.
We checked in with him a couple times. But he was never really coming out of that game. I paid attention more so after the innings or after the delay. His innings, the first inning after back was about as good an inning as he had the whole night. I would say where it came into play was a little bit more the 90-pitch mark. When he got through the sixth and we have a fresh pen, that's matched up pretty well against them, I paid a little bit of attention to the delay at that point.
Q. A.J., McHugh won 19 games this year. Most people probably couldn't pick him out of a lineup. What is it about him that makes you think confident that he could succeed on a stage like this?
Oct. 8 Collin McHugh, George Springer postgame interview
Q. Collin, how did you react to that hour rain delay? What did you do inside to keep yourself warm, and did you ever have to ask A.J. to make sure he didn't throw you?
COLLIN MCHUGH: I never sat down. So I got in the clubhouse, and I think I was making people nervous because I was pacing around the whole time. Threw some heat on my arm and pretty much just paced and made sure I wasn't going to let myself get tight.
A.J., the whole time just kind of kept looking, trying to get an idea of what time it is. Once they finally got a solid number, they said hey, you've got 30 minutes. Get what you need to get done. And that was pretty much it.
Q. Collin, the diving catch that Marisnick makes there in the fifth, two on, one out, how pivotal was that play?
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros' bullpen might not strike fear in the hearts of opponents in the same fashion as the Royals', but manager A.J. Hinch can't help but feel confident in his group of relievers heading into the American League Division Series based on how they've performed for much of season.
Royals relievers led the AL with a 2.69 ERA during the regular season, with the Astros coming in fourth in the AL, at 3.27. The Astros were ranked directly behind the Royals for much of the season before a rough September in which they were rocked for a 5.63 ERA -- the highest in baseball for the month.
Keuchel (17-7, 2.22 ERA) is tied for the American League lead in wins, ranks first in the AL in ERA and leads the Majors in ERA. Shortstop Correa enters Tuesday hitting .276 with 18 homers and 52 RBIs in 81 games. McCullers is 5-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 18 starts since being called up from Double-A Corpus Christi.
KANSAS CITY -- One of the narratives of the American League Division Series between the Royals and the Astros is how similar the two teams are. They're both athletic and have good bullpens, so what has to give for the Astros to advance to the American League Championship Series? Here's a look a three key things the Astros need to advance:
1. Push the tempo: The Astros are an aggressive team on the bases that too often runs into outs, but with their combination of speed and power, they can create havoc if they can get the guys at the top of their order -- specifically Jose Altuve and George Springer -- on base and unleash them. The Astros led the league in stolen bases this season, while the Royals' caught stealing percentage was in the middle of the pack among Major League clubs.
KANSAS CITY -- The biggest challenger to an Astros offense that's relied on power for much of its runs this season just might be a ballpark during this best-of-five American League Division Series against the Royals.
Kauffman Stadium is a daunting place for even the most dangerous of power hitters -- several of which reside in Houston's lineup. Game 1 is set for tonight at 6:30 CT on FOX Sports 1.
KANSAS CITY -- Amid the champagne celebrations of recent days, Dallas Keuchel, the ace of the Astros' rotation and a strong American League Cy Young Award candidate, admits there were haunting memories of the past.
The Astros -- who lost 107 games in 2012, 111 in '13 and 92 last season -- will open the AL Division Series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium tonight at 6:30 CT on FOX Sports 1.