HOUSTON -- His rookie starting pitcher nearing 100 pitches after just five innings of Monday's 9-6 loss to the Royals in Game 4 of the American League Division Series, Astros manager A.J. Hinch instructed Lance McCullers to empty his tank in the sixth inning.
Facing the meat of Kansas City's order -- Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales -- McCullers required just 11 pitches to get through the sixth, striking out Cain with a breaking ball before inducing a popout and a groundout that had the 22-year-old hurler pounding his chest and gesturing toward his dugout as he ran off the field.
Chandler Rome is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.