The Kansas City Royals appeared all but dead in the sixth inning of Friday’s game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Astros. Instead they pulled out a narrow 5-4 victory to even the ALDS at one game apiece.
Behind starter Scott Kazmir, who has enjoyed a .608 career OPS against the current Kansas City Royals roster, lay a well-rested Astros bullpen which had the fourth-best ERA in the American League during the regular season. Looming behind the Astros bullpen, was ace Dallas Keuchel—who appeared poised to pitch Houston into the American League Championship Series in game 3 on Sunday after recording a perfect 15-0 record at home during the regular season.
The Kansas City Royals 2015 playoff future looked bleak. Not quite as hopeless as being down four runs to Oakland’s Jon Lester in the eighth inning of last season’s wild card game, but it certainly didn’t feel like the KC Royals had another miracle in them.
After Ben Zobrist flied out to center to open the the sixth inning, Lorenzo Cain shot an 0-2 pitch into the right field corner. Suddenly, the Blue October crowd jamming Kauffman Stadium remembered they were in a playoff game. Astros manager A.J. Hinch immediately called for lefty specialist Oliver Peréz to face Eric Hosmer in place of Kazmir, but the move did little good. With two strikes on him, Hosmer golfed a little flare into left-center field. Because Lorenzo Cain was running on the play and sprinted half-way to third before Peréz released his pitch, he was able to score.
The play pulled the Kansas City Royals within one run at 4-3.
Kendrys Morales dinged a another single to shallow center to put runners at first and third. Hinch again went to his pen, replacing Oliver Peréz with Josh Fields, who walked Mike Moustakas to load the bases for Salvador Peréz.
Peréz didn’t disappoint. This time, free-swinging Salvador Peréz walked on four straight errant pitches to force in the tying run. With a roaring Kauffman Stadium behind them, the Kansas City Royals appeared ready to blow the game open, but Fields struck out Alex Gordon and Alex Rios despite throwing a couple of errant curves that almost squirted past catcher Jason Castro for a wild pitch.
The KC Royals failure to take the lead in the sixth inning didn’t matter. Kelvin Herrera replaced Johnny Cueto in the seventh, and held the Astros scoreless despite allowing a hit. Then Alcides Escobar greeted new Houston pitcher Will Harris with a triple into the right center gap that bounced away from Houston center fielder Jake Marisnick when he tried to pick it up. Ben Zobrist followed with a single to shallow left that gave the Kansas City Royals their first lead of the ALDS at 5-4.
More from KC Royals News
- KC Royals Rumors: Is a monster move in the cards?
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: 3 Tampa Bay pitchers
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: The $25 million man
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Expectations met
- KC Royals Winter Meetings Tracker: Day 3 update
Setup man Ryan Madson took care of business in the 8th innings, while Wade Davis closed out the win in the 9th despite allowing a one out walk to pinch hitter Preston Tucker. Davis, however, erased Tucker on a pickoff play at first that came after umpires requested a replay from New York.
The much-need win came after the Astros scored in each of the first three innings against Johnny Cueto, including a two-run home run from red-hot Colby Rasmus, who has blasted dingers in each of the Astros first three playoff games this post-season. The KC Royals also required a bit of help from replay officials, who not only rang up Preston Tucker, but they also overturned an out ruling at first base on Alcides Escobar’s bunt single in the third inning. Alcides Escobar’s hit forced the Astros to concede a run to get a double play on Ben Zobrist’s ground ball, rather than attempt to cut down Alex Rios at the plate who scored from third on the play.
That run kept the Kansas City Royals in shouting distance at 4-2.
Salvador Peréz had a big game. Not only did he drive in the tying run with a walk, he also got the KC Royals on the board with a solo home run in the bottom of the second after watching the Astros take a 3-0 lead in the second.
The KC Royals have been playing catch up since the Astros opened the ALDS with two runs against Yordano Ventura in the first inning on Thursday. Let’s hope they can turn the tables on Dallas Keuchel in Houston, and give him his first home loss of the 2015 season.
Hey, the Kansas City Royals beat Jon Lester after falling behind by four runs to launch last season’s playoff run. So why can’t they pull off another seemingly impossible feat in Houston?