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.
KANSAS CITY -- No short leash was needed for Scott Kazmir on Friday. The veteran left-hander, acquired at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to help the Astros get into the postseason and beyond, left behind his second-half struggles and pitched into the sixth inning for the first time since Sept. 14.
Kazmir exited with one out in the sixth inning clinging to a two-run lead, having given his club as much as it could've hoped for in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Royals, before Kansas City scored twice in the frame en route to a 5-4 comeback victory.
KANSAS CITY -- The scene moves to Houston, with neither the Astros nor the Royals completely satisfied, or completely out of sorts.
The Astros won the opener of this American League Division Series on Thursday, but the Royals came from behind to win Game 2 on Friday. The series will resume with Game 3 at Minute Maid Park on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros, less than 48 hours from hosting their first postseason contests in 10 years, revealed details surrounding Games 3 and 4 of the American League Division Series, scheduled for Sunday and Monday.
All-Star ace lefty Dallas Keuchel will start Game 3 on Sunday (4 p.m. ET on MLB Network), with righty Lance McCullers pitching Game 4 Monday (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). The Minute Maid Park roof will be closed for both games.
KANSAS CITY -- If watching Eric Hosmer reach out and poke a soft RBI single to shallow left field in the sixth inning wasn't frustrating enough, Kendrys Morales followed with an RBI single that went through a hole on the right side of the infield created by a defensive shift.
The Royals' good fortune continued when Alcides Escobar led off the seventh with a high fly ball that landed between speedy center fielder Jake Marisnick and right fielder George Springer. Escobar scored the game-winning run on a Ben Zobrist single to give the Royals a 5-4 win Friday in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium, evening the series at 1-1.
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.
KANSAS CITY -- The American League Division Series between the Astros and the Royals has been reduced to a best-of-three series, with Houston holding home-field advantage after splitting the first two games at Kauffman Stadium.
Here's what the Astros will need to do to make sure they take advantage in Game 3 at Minute Maid Park on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, on MLB Network.
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. They will be opposed by Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez.
Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Astros-Royals ALDS Game 2: Did You Know?
By Chandler Rome
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).
Here are some stats and facts you should know from Friday's game:
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 -- 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.
Marisnick, who replaced Gomez, showed off his skills in the fifth inning when he made a long run and a terrific diving catch in center to rob Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar of what would have been an RBI hit. It was one of several great defensive plays the Astros made in their 5-2 victory over the Royals.
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?