The Kansas City Royals had escaped an elimination game in Houston to force a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5. That’s when Johnny Cueto lived up to the hype. Here’s a look back at his stellar performance.
(Editor’s note: This is one of several on-this-date posts that KoK will publish throughout the 2017 postseason. They will highlight the postseason success of the Kansas City Royals over the years with particular emphasis given to 2014 and 2015—given the strong ties to the current squad.)
On this date in 2015, the Kansas City Royals hosted a winner-take-all game for the second straight year. This one didn’t turn out quite like the first. And that’s a good thing.
After a wild shootout in the 2014 AL Wild Card Game, Johnny Cueto made sure things didn’t descend into insanity this time around. Having already came back in Game 4 with a wild rally, Kansas City Royals fans might not have been able to take another heart-stopping game.
Cueto, who came over at the trade deadline from Cincinnati, proved his worth with a near flawless performance in Game 5. Admittedly, the right-hander didn’t get off to the best of starts.
In the second inning, he gave up a two-run homer to Luis Valbuena that put the Kansas City Royals in an early hole. It was the last hit he would allow, as he retired the final 19 batters he faced.
Cueto racked up eight strikeouts against zero walks and just two hits. The outing—coupled with his performance in World Series Game 2—landed him on the list of top moments from the 2015 playoff run.
Offense Gets Going
Cueto also got plenty of run support. The Kansas City Royals got one run back in the fourth inning against Houston starter Collin McHugh. The fifth inning saw McHugh chase after the first two hitters reached.
Mike Fiers, though, struggled to keep the Royals at bay. Alex Rios, who started the rally in Game 4, doubled home Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon to give Kansas City the lead. Alcides Escobar sacrificed Rios to third and Ben Zobrist brought him home on a sacrifice fly.
While Cueto kept the Astros off-balance, the Kansas City Royals finally pulled away in the bottom of the eighth inning. Escobar led off the frame with a double. Lorenzo Cain reached with a one-out walk. Then up came Kendrys Morales with two outs, and this happened:
The three-run golf shot off Dallas Keuchel all but sealed the victory. Wade Davis‘ 1-2-3 ninth inning officially closed it out. But the game will mostly be remembered for Cueto and what he accomplished with the team’s back against the wall.
Where does Cueto’s outing rank among the best pitching performance’s in Kansas City Royals postseason history? Let us know in the comments and on social media.