Kansas City Royals: Revisiting the 2015 ALDS Game 5
After a Game 4 win, the Kansas City Royals return to Kauffman Stadium to face Houston in Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS, hoping to win and advance to the ALCS.
The Kansas City Royals were able to hold off the Houston Astros and keep themselves in the ALDS by bringing home a win in Game 4 at Minute Maid Park. Only one more game against Houston stood in the way of the Royals advancing to the ALCS for the second year in a row.
The Royals returned to Kansas City and Kauffman Stadium to play the winner take all game of the ALDS. On October 14, 2015, in front of 40,566 fans, Game 5 got underway.
On the mound for the Astros was Collin McHugh. McHugh had put together a decent 2015 regular season, finishing with a 19 and 7 record, and 3.89 ERA. For the Royals, Johnny Cueto got the start. Cueto was acquired from Cincinnati earlier in the year. Though Cueto struggled in his time with the Royals, ending the regular season with a 4-7 record and an ERA of 4.76, he would prove to be an asset in Game 5.
The game started quietly for both teams. Cueto pitched three up, three down into a popfly, strikeout, and a flyball. McHugh answered, giving up one walk, but sitting down the rest with a flyball and a ground ball double play.
The second inning started well for Cueto with a strikeout and a flyball to left. Only needing one more out, Cueto first gave up a single. Following this, Cueto gave up a home run to Luis Valbuena, allowing the Astros to take the lead, 2-0. Cueto recorded the final out on the next batter and got out of the inning without any further damage. McHugh again recorded three outs with no hits.
Cueto bounced back in the third, sitting down three Astros in a row. The Royals, needing to score, started to work on McHugh. They started the inning with a single, but a ground ball double play from Alex Gordon left them with two outs and nobody on. Alex Rios stepped up with a single, but unfortunately, McHugh recorded the final out on a Flyball to center.
Cueto again sat down the Astros in the top of the fourth with a line-out and two strikeouts. The Royals were finally able to strike. McHugh started with a strikeout but allowed Lorenzo Cain on base with a single. Following Cain, Eric Hosmer singled to center, allowing Cain to score putting the Royals on the board. McHugh recorded two more outs, leaving the score at 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth.
To begin the fifth, Cueto again looked strong, striking out two and pitching another into a foul popfly. The Royals, again, went to work in the fifth. Salvador Perez got to first after he was hit by a pitch, and Gordon moved Perez to third with a ground-rule double, putting two in scoring position. The Astros at this time replaced McHugh with Mike Fiers. Rios stepped up first to face Fiers, doubling to left field, allowing Perez and Gordon to score.
Alcides Escobar continued to move the game, completing a sacrifice bunt moving Rios to third. Ben Zobrist followed Escobar, hitting a Sacrifice Fly to right, allowing Rios to score. Fiers recorded the final out, ending the fifth with a score of 4-2 Royals.
Innings six and seven were quiet for both teams. Cueto continued to stun, ending both innings without giving up a hit. Tony Sipp replaced Fiers for the Astros and pitched a hitless sixth and recorded two outs in the seventh with Pat Neshek recording the final out.
In the top of the eighth, Cueto continued to pitch strong. He retired all three batters he faced. Since giving up the 2 run home run in the second, Cueto was able to pull it together and retire the final 19 batters he faced in Game 5, giving the Royals a strong chance to take the game.
For the bottom of the eighth, Houston brought in Dallas Keuchel to try and sit the Royals down. The Royals answered, though. Escobar doubled to right field to start the inning, and with one out, Keuchel intentionally walked Cain. The inning looked as though it might end without another score after a second recorded out, but Kendrys Morales had other ideas. With two outs, Morales hit a 3 run home run, putting the score at 7-2 Royals.
To finish the game, the Royals brought in closer Wade Davis. Davis sat down all three Astros hitters with a strikeout, ground out, and flyball, securing the series win for the Royals.
The Royals were able to win the battle and advance to the ALCS. Just like in the ALDS, the Royals would start with home-field advantage. The Royals had to face the Toronto Blue Jays and knew they needed to strike fast if they wanted to keep their World Series hopes alive.