The Houston Astros had a 6-2 lead after seven innings in Game 4 of their ALDS matchup with the Kansas City Royals when things fell apart in what ended up a 9-6 loss in Minute Maid Park.
The good news is that the upstart Astros have another opportunity to earn a trip to the ALCS tonight in Game 5 in Kauffman Stadium. Johnny Cueto takes the mound for the Royals against Astros' right-hander Collin McHugh.
McHugh started Game 1 for the Astros, earning the win with six innings of work on the mound in which he gave up four hits and two earned runs, both on home runs. Cueto started Game 2 for the Royals, giving up seven hits, three walks and four runs in what ended up a 5-4 win in which he received no decision. All four runs the Astros scored on Cueto came in the first three innings of that start, but the right-hander settled in and retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced.
Astros' manager A.J. Hinch was asked yesterday about his hitters' approach to Cueto in that game and how they'll attack the veteran tonight, though he wasn't giving away any secrets.
"I'm not going to tip our hand on our approach, but I'll tell you I did like the way that we came out aggressive against him," Hinch said.
"Against good pitchers and notable pitchers, you do have to try to get them early. If you allow them to settle in, it can be very, very difficult for you.
"So being ready to hit on pitch one is important. It's that way for us. We're probably the most aggressive team in baseball. So that's not going to surprise anybody that we're going to be ready to hit on the first pitch.
"With Cueto, as the game went along, last game, he settled in, got a little bit of feel for his breaking ball.
"He started doing some of his creative antics on the mound and really started to settle in, and he became a little bit more difficult."
Royals' skipper Ned Yost was asked if he thought the dramatic comeback win in Game 4 gave the defending AL champs a confidence boost going into tonight's matchup?
"No, I don't think we need extra confidence, so a win's kind of a win," Yost said.
"Our guys are -- if you could have been in our locker room yesterday before the game, it was like we were playing Game 7 of Spring Training. They were loose, they were laughing, they were having fun. And all you could hear was the looseness. The TV crews came in, and they said: 'How do your players feel?' I said: 'You tell me. Listen to what's going on out there.'
"So they have got a ton of confidence, and I think more than anything else that game just -- it's just an improbable comeback like that, they knew that they could do that. So, for the extra confidence, I don't think that's going to help us none because our confidence level is already real high."
|HOUSTON ASTROS||KANSAS CITY ROYALS|
|Jose Altuve - 2B||Alcides Escobar - SS|
|George Springer - RF||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Carlos Correa - SS||Lorenzo Cain - CF|
|Colby Rasmus - LF||Eric Hosmer - 1B|
|Carlos Gomez - CF||Kendrys Morales - DH|
|Evan Gattis - DH||Mike Moustakas - 3B|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Salvador Perez - C|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Alex Gordon - LF|
|Jason Castro - C||Alex Rios - RF|
|Collin McHugh - RHP||Johnny Cueto - RHP|
McHugh vs the Royals:
Cueto vs the Astros: