The Houston Astros have struggled so much on the road this season, so it was a good feeling when the Astros got the road win in New York in the wild-card game. While Dallas Keuchel was still dominant against the Yankees, he has not pitched that as well on the road this season. With that performance against the Yankees, the Astros have exorcised their road demons for now. So how did their performance carry over to start the American League Division Series?
Everyone outside of Houston gave the Astros not much of a chance to beat the Kansas City Royals. However, the Astros fans who have watched this team for a while know exactly how this team can get hot and find ways to win. This idea was something that was thrown around last night a lot, did the Astros have the momentum from the win versus the Yankees on their side?
The Astros luck continued into the first inning of the game 1 of the ALDS as Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa reached base to lead off the game. The bases were loaded for Colby Rasmus, who hit a sharp ball to the second baseman allowing Altuve to score. Following that play, Evan Gattis hit a ground ball to shortstop scoring Springer. The weird thing about both of these plays is whether or not the fielders could have gotten the runners out at home, as if the Royals were conceding the early runs in a playoffs series.
Rasmus and George Springer added insurance runs with home runs later in the game, and Jake Marisnick was filling in for Gomez, scored on a single by Altuve.
A.J. Hinch showed some confidence for Collin McHugh in this game, as he allowed him to return to pitch after the 45-minute rain delay. McHugh awarded Hinch for his trust with a quality start only allowing two runs on solo blasts by Kendrys Morales. The bullpen was once again solid for the Astros in the playoffs, as the group did not allow any additional runs over the final three innings. They Astros have shown a template for the playoff games so far; the starters go six innings followed by three innings by the bullpen. CTH wrote about McHugh here: Evaluating the Underrated Collin McHugh for Royals Fans.
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This win was really big for the Astros, as it puts pressure on the Royals to win three of the four games remaining in this series. The playoffs so far have played out in a weird way so far; the road team has won every game played so far. Assuming this holds true today, the Astros could head home with a 2-0 with Keuchel on the mound at home on Sunday. However, it is not assumed that the Astros win today as they face Johnny Cueto, who they have struggled against in the past. Should the Astros lose today’s game, they can head back to Houston with the chance to win the series there with how they played at home this season.
Going up 1-0 on the road is a great way to show who is the boss to the Royals, but a commanding 2-0 would even better. I will go into more details following today’s game, but it is good for the Astros to play so well away from home.