2015 American League Division Series 1
|2015 American League Division Series|
|Kansas City Royals
95 - 67 in the AL
|3 - 2
86 - 76 in the AL
|1||Houston Astros 5 Kansas City Royals 2||October 8||Collin McHugh (1-0) Yordano Ventura (0-1)||7:30 pm|
|2||Houston Astros 4 Kansas City Royals 5||October 9||Scott Kazmir (0-0) Johnny Cueto (0-0)||3:30 pm|
|3||Kansas City Royals 2 Houston Astros 4||October 11||Edinson Volquez (0-1) Dallas Keuchel (1-0)||4:00 pm|
|4||Kansas City Royals 9 Houston Astros 6||October 12||Yordano Ventura (0-1) Lance McCullers (0-0)||1:00 pm|
|5||Houston Astros 2 Kansas City Royals 7||October 14||Collin McHugh (1-1) Johnny Cueto (1-0)||8:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Kauffman Stadium
|WP: Collin McHugh (1-0), LP: Yordano Ventura, SV: Luke Gregerson (1)|
|Home Runs: HOU - George Springer (1), Colby Rasmus (1); KC - Kendrys Morales 2 (2)|
- Attendance: 40,146
The Astros, sporting a starting line-up in which every player was younger than 30, pulled a trick over the Royals that would have been worthy of Kansas City's brilliant run to the seventh game of the 2014 World Series, beating them at home in the opener of the Division Series. The starting pitchers were a couple of youngsters having put up back-to-back solid seasons, Collin McHugh for the Astros and Yordano Ventura for the Royals. McHugh got the best of that match-up, however, as Ventura allowed three runs over the first two innings, then left after a 49-minute rain delay, and the Royals were never able to climb out of that early hole.
Pesky 2B Jose Altuve set the tone for Houston by leading off the game with a single to left off Ventura, who then walked RF George Springer; another single, by SS Carlos Correa, loaded the bases with none out. LF Colby Rasmus came up next and hit a sharp grounder to third that plated a run; another groundout, to shortstop by DH Evan Gattis, made it 2-0. The Astros made that 3-0 in the 2nd when CF Jake Marisnick hit a two-out double and Altuve followed with a single. Kansas City got on the board in the bottom of the inning when DH Kendrys Morales hit a lead-off homer against McHugh, but the next three batters made outs, after which the game was interrupted by rain for almost an hour. KC manager Ned Yost decided to pull his young starter in favor of veteran lefty Chris Young, but A.J. Hinch chose to keep McHugh on the mound. Seemingly, both men were right, as both pitchers did well after the rains stopped. There was no scoring in the 3rd, and in the 4th, Young struck out the side. Morales brought the Royals within one run when he hit his second homer in the bottom of the 4th, but it was another solo shot.
In the 5th inning, Houston added an insurance run; Altuve led off with a single but was caught stealing, leaving the bases empty for Springer as he sent a pitch beyond the left-center wall. The Royals put a couple of men on with one out against McHugh in that inning, but were unable to cash them in, while in the 6th, in a similar situation, Young was helped by a double play grounder off the bat of C Jason Castro. Fireballing Kelvin Herrera took over for Chris Young in the 7th, pitching a scoreless frame. For Houston, it was Tony Sipp who pitched the 7th, getting the Royals in order. In the 8th, Rasmus added to the lead when he homered on the first pitch thrown by reliever Ryan Madson. Will Harris got two quick outs in the 8th, but then allowed back-to-back singles to 2B Ben Zobrist and CF Lorenzo Cain. Hinch called on veteran lefty Oliver Perez to face 1B Eric Hosmer and he did his job, getting him to pop out to third. With a comfortable three-run lead, Luke Gregerson came in for the 9th; he struck out Morales before hitting 3B Mike Moustakas with a pitch, but Kansas City got nothing more, as C Salvador Perez struck out swinging and LF Alex Gordon flied out to left to end the game.
Game 2 @ Kauffman Stadium
|WP: Kelvin Herrera (1-0), LP: Will Harris (0-1), SV: Wade Davis (1)|
|Home Runs: KC - Salvador Perez (1); HOU - Colby Rasmus (1)|
- Attendance: 40,008
The Royals had made a big trade at the trading deadline, acquiring starting pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Cincinnati Reds for a bevy of top pitching prospects, in order to be able to count on him in the postseason. As it turned out, Cueto struggled a lot with Kansas City before pitching better in his last few starts, so there was some question as to whether he was really the ace KC had sought, and in fact, he put his tema in an early hole when handed the game to start Game 2. For the Astros, their starter Scott Kazmir was also acquired at the trading deadline, and he too had struggled to pick up wins.
Once again, the Astros got off to a quick start. In the top of the 1st, RF George Springer drew a one-out walk and LF Colby Rasmus drove him in with a two-out double, although he could not score himself when DH Evan Gattis followed with a sharp single to left. In the 2nd, Cueto allowed a lead-off single to 1B Chris Carter and walked C Jason Castro. CF Jake Marisnick singled on a bunt to make the situation critical, loading the bases with none out. Cueto got 2B Jose Altuve to fly out to shallow right, but a single by Springer plated in two runs for a 3-0 lead. However, SS Carlos Correa grounded into a double play, at a point when he could have blown the game wide open. The Royals then replied when C Salvador Perez homered with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd. But Cueto continued to struggle: Rasmus hit his second homer of the series to lead off the 3rd, and it was now 4-1 for the Astros.
The Royals were in serious danger of being blown out of the game at that point, but they managed to hang close by adding another run in the bottom of the 3rd. RF Alex Rios hit a lead-off double to center then SS Alcides Escobar laid down a bunt. He was originally called out at first base, but this was overturned when manager Ned Yost challenged the call. 2B Ben Zobrist then grounded into a double play, but it allowed Rios to score. In spite of his early struggles, Cueto remained in the game, and he began to settle down, getting Houston out in order in the 4th, and keeping them from scoring in the next two innings as well. After one out in the bottom of the 6th, CF Lorenzo Cain doubled, and Houston manager A.J. Hinch decided to take out Kazmir. It was the opening Kansas City needed. 1B Eric Hosmer greeted reliever Oliver Perez with a run-scoring single to make it 4-3, DH Kendrys Morales singled as well and 3B Mike Moustakas walked to load the bases. That was the end for Perez, as Josh Fields came in, but he walked Perez and the game was tied. The bases were still loaded with only one out, but Fields escaped the jam by striking out LF Alex Gordon and Rios.
It was now a new ballgame, and Yost decided to bring in Kelvin Herrera, playing as if he had a lead instead of being in a tied game. Herrera got the Astros out, and with new pitcher Will Harris in the game for Houston in the bottom of the 7th, Escobar hit a line drive triple to center. Zobrist followed with a single to put Kansas City ahead, 5-4. The Royals could not add any other runs, but they did not need to. This was now familiar territory, protecting a late-inning lead by using their outstanding bullpen. Ryan Madson took care of Houston in the 8th on a ground out and a pair of strikeouts, then after the Royals stranded a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the inning, Wade Davis came in to close the lead. Hinch sent in some pinch-hitters, first Jed Lowrie, who struck out batting for Castro, and then Preston Tucker, who managed to draw a walk while batting for Marisnick. Carlos Gomez came in to run, but he was too greedy in taking a lead and was picked off by Davis on a call that necessitated a video review. With the bases now empty, Altuve grounded to third to end the game.
Game 3 @ Minute Maid Park
|WP: Dallas Keuchel (1-0), LP: Edinson Volquez (0-1), SV: Luke Gregerson (2)|
|Home Runs: KC - Lorenzo Cain (1), Alex Gordon (1); HOU: Chris Carter (1)|
- Attendance: 42,674
The Astros had their ace, Dallas Keuchel, starting in Game 3 at home and rode his arm to a 4-2 win over the Royals. HIs opponent on the mound was Edinson Volquez, who managed to hang on with the Cy Young Award candidate for a while, but in the end, he was unable to contain the Astros' bats as Houston moved within one game of winning the series.
The game started as a pitchers' duel, with no scoring through the first three innings. The Royals broke the ice in the 4th on a solo homer by Lorenzo Cain to lead off the frame. After one out, Kendrys Morales reached on an error by 3B Luis Valbuena and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Keuchel. He moved to third on a ground out and Keuchel walked Salvador Perez to put himself in even more trouble, but he then got Alex Gordon to fly out to left, leaving the Royals with only a 1-0 lead. In the meantime, Volquez was pitching well, until in the bottom of the 5th Valbuena drew a walk and moved to third on a double by Chris Carter; jason Castro followed with a single that scored both runners and put the Astros ahead to stay. They then added a run in each of the next two innings, to bring the lead to 4-1. In the 6th, Colby Rasmus led off with a double and, after two outs, scored on a single by Carlos Gomez. In the 7th, with Danny Duffy now on the mound, Carter led off the inning with a homer.
Down by three runs, the Royals made a final push in the 9th inning. Luke Gregerson was on the mound, having come in to register the final out of the 8th inning,and he gave up a lead-off homer to Gordon. After one out, Alcides Escobar singled, bringing the tying run to the plate. The Royals could not get any closer, however. Ben Zobrist forced out Escobar and Cain struck out swinging to end the game.
Game 4 @ Minute Maid Park
|WP: Ryan Madson (1-0), LP: Tony Sipp (0-1), SV: Wade Davis (2)|
|Home Runs: KC - Salvador Perez (1), Eric Hosmer (1); HOU - Chris Gomez (1), Carlos Correa 2 (2), Colby Rasmus (3)|
- Attendance: 42,387
For a brief moment during Game 4, the Houston Astros and their raucous fans at Minute Maid Park were convinced they had punched their ticket to the ALCS, but the Kansas City Royals decided otherwise, mounting a tremendous 8th inning comeback that erased a 6-2 deficit, and went on to win, 9-6, forcing a deciding fifth game.
The Astros had picked another one of their promising youngsters as their starting pitcher in the person of rookie Lance McCullers, while the Royals returned with the hard-throwing Yordano Ventura, who had only gone two innings in Game 1. McCullers hit the first batter of the game, SS Alcides Escobar, with a pitch, but retired the next three batters, then in turn Ventura hit young Astros SS Carlos Correa with a pitch in the bottom of the inning. There was some jawing, but both pitches seemed to have been unintentional. In the 2nd, 3B Mike Moustakas drew a one-out walk and C Salvador Perez followed with a home run, putting the Royals in front, 2-0. The lead was short-lived, though, as CF Carlos Gomez homered to lead off the bottom of the frame, then Correa hit another solo shot with two outs in the 3rd. Both young pitchers were doing well except for the long balls, with McCullers' excellent curve ball resulting in 7 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings, while Ventura struck out 8 in 5 innings.
The Astros took the lead against Ventura in the 5th when RF George Springer drew a two-out walk then sprinted all the way home on a double down the right field line by Correa. Kelvin Herrera took over on the mound for the Royals in the 6th, getting three strikeouts and a walk. In the top of the 7th, McCullers retired Moustakas on a grounder, but then hit Perez with a pitch. The Royals' catcher had been banged up in the previous inning when a foul ball struck him out on the chin, and manager Ned Yost decided to send Terrance Gore to pinch-run for him, while Astros skipper A.J. Hinch removed McCullers and put in Will Harris. Gore stole second base on the first pitch to LF Alex Gordon, but the latter struck out for the second out. Gore than took off for third base and had it easily stolen, except that his feet left the bag for a fraction of a second, during which 3B Luis Valbuena still had his glove on him. The Astros appealed for a video review, and it confirmed that Gore had strayed from the bag, ending the inning.
Riding a high, the Astros then appeared to nail the Royals' coffin in the bottom of the 8th. Free-swinging 2B Jose Altuve drew an uncharacteristic lead-off walk from Herrera, bringing Ryan Madson to the mound. He struck out Springer, but Correa then launched his second homer of the game, and LF Colby Rasmus followed with his third homer of the series, and fourth of the postseason. The Royals were now up, 6-2, the stadium was rocking, and it looked to everyone like the end had come for the Royals.
However, the resilient Kansas City squad then started a magnificent rally that left Houston completely stunned. RF Alex Rios led off the 8th with a single off Harris, and Escobar and 2B Ben Zobrist did the same, loading the bases. CF Lorenzo Cain made it four straight hits, everyone moved up 90 feet, and the lead was down to 6-3. Things were now getting heated, and lefthander Tony Sipp took over for Harris on the mound. The first batter he faced was 1B Eric Hosmer, a left-handed hitter, and he singled to right after a long battle, making it 6-4. Up next was DH Kendrys Morales, who hit an apparent double play ball through the middle; however, it was deflected slightly by Sipp, and as a result took an unexpected bounce just over Correa's glove, and everyone was safe, with two runs scoring, tying the score at 6-6. Correa was charged with an error, although there was little he could have done. Jarrod Dyson ran for Morales, and he promptly stole second, although Moustakas struck out for the first out. Closer Luke Gregerson now came in to pitch, in an attempt to keep the game tied. The Astros' main hope now was that back-up C Drew Butera was due up; he was not known as much of a hitter, but could not be pinch-hit for, with Salvador Perez, the team's only other catcher, already out of the game. However, Butera battled gamely, fighting off a number of tough pitches to draw a walk that loaded the bases again. Next up was Gordon, and he hit a ground ball to Altuve, whose only play was at first base. Hosmer scored the go-ahead run. Still the inning continued, as Rios, up for the second time, drew a walk. In spite Dyson taking a huge lead off third base and feinting an attempt to steal home, Gregerson managed to settle down enough to strike out Escobar for the final out. The Astros were only down by one run, but the crowd was now completely deflated, and that one run loomed like a mountain after what had transpired.
The Royals took no chance with their new-found lead. Closer Wade Davis was sent to pitch the bottom of the 8th and he retired the Royals in order. The now despondent Astros then blew any remaining hopes of tying the game when Josh Fields gave up a two-run homer to Hosmer in the top of the 9th. In the bottom of the inning, Correa reached base for the fifth time when he hit a lead-off single, but he went no further as Davis struck out Rasmus and pinch-hitter Preston Tucker, then got Gomez to fly out to end the game.
Game 5 @ Kauffman Stadium
|WP: Johnny Cueto (1-0), LP: Collin McHugh (1-1)|
|Home Runs: HOU - Luis Valbuena (1); KC - Kendrys Morales (3)|
- Attendance: 40,566
With the season on the line, Johnny Cueto pitched like an ace in Game 5, giving up only 2 hits and no walks in 8 innings, allowing the Royals to prevail after trailing early and eliminate the pesky Astros. For the latter, the catastrophic 8th inning of Game 4 was truly the turning point, as apart from one long hit by Luis Valbuena, they failed to generate any offense in the game. Facing Cueto was Collin McHugh, a 19-game winner during the regular season coming off a win in Game 1, but he was nowhere near as dominant as his opponent when the crunch came.
The Royals managed to strike the first blow in the game, however. With two outs in the 2nd, Evan Gattis reached on an infield single, then Valbuena followed with a homer to right. The Royals were up, 2-0, but would not get another runner on base for the remainder of the game. Cueto proceeded to carve them up after that early mistake, striking out 8 while walking none over 8 superb innings, before turning the ball over to closer Wade Davis in the 9th. The question was whether Houston would manage to keep the Royals' bats in check, and the answer came in the middle third of the game.
After three scoreless innings, McHugh gave up a one-out single to Lorenzo Cain in the 4th. Eric Hosmer followed with another single and Cain, who was running on the pitch, raced all the way home to cut the Astros' lead to 2-1. But it was in the 5th inning that things unraveled for the Astros. McHugh started the inning by hitting Salvador Perez with a pitch. Alex Gordon followed with a double that bounced into the stands, putting runners on second and third with no one out. A.J. Hinch decided to yank McHugh at that point. replacing him with Mike Fiers, normally a starter and author of a no-hitter earlier in the year. He was immediately burned by Alex Rios, however, who hit a double to left, putting the Royals ahead. Alcides Escobar then moved Rios to third with a sacrifice bunt and Ben Zobrist followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2. That's how the score remained until the 8th when in a desperate move, Hinch called on his ace, Dallas Keuchel to pitch in relief. Going on short rest and in an unfamiliar role, Keuchel was burned for three more runs on a home run by Kendrys Morales, putting the game completely out of reach. Thus Davis faced no pressure when he came on to pitch the 9th and he retired the Astros in order to send the Royals on to the ALCS.
|Major League Baseball American League Division Series