Preview: Astros @ Royals ALDS Game 5

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Momentum.

Momentum, arguably, is the most important in baseball than any other sport.

We’ve all seen teams get hot at the right time and win in the postseason. Just like the Royals last year. The comeback in the wildcard game propelled them into a MLB record eight straight playoff wins. They swept the Angels in the ALDS and the Orioles in the ALCS on their way from being a historic performance away from a World Series win. In turn, the Astros this year have aspired to do the same thing the Royals did last year, win the wildcard game and ride the momentum to bring a title back to Houston. They really proved their worth in the wildcard game. Dallas Keuchel proved why he is going to win the Cy Young. Colby Rasmus and company proved their offense is legit. The Astros so far this postseason have proved they can hang with the best. There is only one problem for the Astros, those pesky Royals. The Royals just find ways to win when they need it most. The Astros found out game two first hand. With Cain and Hosmer getting very timely hits, the Royals came back from a 4-1 deficit.

Johnny Cueto celebrating with Eric Hosmer during game 2 of the ALDS vs the Astros.

Johnny Cueto celebrating with Eric Hosmer during game two of the ALDS vs the Astros.

That comeback came after a tough outing for Cueto and the Royals in game one. Astros just put it to KC in Kauffman Stadium. The game did not seem as close as the score said. It seemed like a much bigger win than the 5-2 score. This helped ease the minds of Astros fans, Royals fans in turn were beginning to panic. The Royals were now heading into game three in Houston with a Cy Young caliber pitcher who was 15-0 at home facing them. With some more timely hitting, the Royals gained a slim lead early, but Keuchel shut them down for seven innings, even with the workload of 115+ pitches. The Astros won 2-4. The 95 win season of the Royals 2015 season is now in jeopardy.

Backs to the wall , two straight wins or go home games. The Royals need to play a complete game. Great pitching and timely hitting were a must in game four on the road in Houston. The first six innings were looking good for the Royals. While it was a tight game, a 3-2 lead going into the seventh seemed to be good enough as Kansas City went into their bullpen after a five inning, three earned run outing from the 24 year old phenom Yordano Ventura. But Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson combined to give up three runs in the seventh inning. This rare bad inning from the Royals bullpen resulted in a 6-2 lead for the Astros going into the top of the eighth , two innings, six more outs and the Royals go home disappointed, and the Astros go onto the ALCS. A couple timely hits later, and the game had a eerily similar feel to it. Does the 2014 AL Wildcard ring a bell? Down four runs going into the eighth, the Royals ended up pulling the game out and winning the game. Now we’re here in 2015 ALDS game four with their season on the line, again down by four going into the eighth. And again people were already writing off the Royals as done. And again the Royals proved to everyone that you should never count them out. Timely hitting and a 2 run error by Shortstop phenom Carlos Correa proved costly to the Astros hopes of winning game four.

Carlos Correa dejected after a costly error to tie the game in the 8th inning of game 4.

Carlos Correa dejected after a costly error to tie the game in the 8th inning of game 4.

Momentum.

Momentum, arguably, is the most important in baseball than any other sport.

And now the Royals have it.

After Correa’s error to tie the game at 6-6 and Gordon’s RBI groundout , the game and series, completely shifted. Two innings from All-Star reliever-turned closer Wade Davis, and a two run Eric Hosmer home run, Game 4 belonged to Kansas City.

Game 5 features Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto. Cueto has produced a 11-13, 3.44 earned run average , and 176 strikeouts for the season and pitched in game two of the ALDS. It also features Houston’s Colin McHugh who has produced a 19-7, 3.89 ERA, and 171 strikeouts for the season and pitched in game one of the ALDS. One thing to watch going into this game will be Johnny Cueto pitching up against Colby Rasmus and Luis Valbuena. Rasmus and Valbuena have combined for 38 at bats against Cueto. Rasmus himself has a .364 batting average, one home run, and 5 RBI stat line against Cueto. Rasmus is one of, if not, the hottest hitter in all of baseball at this moment and Cueto will have to be very cautious of what he throws to him. Cueto will need to stay away from low and in, just like any left handed hitter, he seems to mash those pitches. Another thing to watch is Salvador Perez. He got hit hard on a foul tip right in the face mask and was taken out of the game after being hit by a pitch and pinch ran for. He is expected to play in game five but his health is something to keep an eye on .

Salvador Perez. Holding his head in pain after being hit by a foul tip.

Salvador Perez. Holding his head in pain after being hit by a foul tip.

On the other side of the inning, McHugh’s ability to avoid the big inning will be huge if the Astros want to win this game, especially early. If the Royals get going early in the game, they can ride the roar of the crowd and the momentum of the series to an easy finish in game 5. Expect Kauffman Stadium to be full and loud for this game. Do or die. Game 5 ALDS. Astros @ Royals. First pitch 8:07pm ET. time on Fox Sports 1.

Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals and Game 5 of the ALDS.

Kauffman Stadium, home of the Royals and Game 5 of the ALDS.

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