The Houston Astros survived a Wild Card game in New York, so tonight they start a three-game set with the Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium.
The Astros are back in the postseason for the first time since 2005, and they are taking on a Royals team that returned to the postseason for the first time since 1985 last Fall.
Royals' skipper Ned Yost told reporters yesterday he saw some similarities between Kansas City's 2014 roster and the upstart Astros.
"They're a nice team," Yost said. "They're very athletic. There's a lot of similarities between our team and their team. You've got to make sure you control the running game, because they like to run when they get on the bases.
"Their pitching is very, very solid. Got a solid bullpen. Defense is excellent. What Dallas Kuechel did last night was outstanding, but he's been doing that all year long.
"So it's going to be a fun series. Tough series, but a fun series."
What will the Royals need to do to win?
"You just have to execute," he said.
"You get in these types of series, you have to execute. We've got a game plan. We've spent hours and hours going over their club. We know their strengths, their weaknesses. Now we just have to go out and execute."
While the Astros send Collin McHugh to the mound in the series opener, the Royals counter with right-hander Yordano Ventura.
Houston's skipper, A.J. Hinch, was asked in his own pregame press conference how they would approach Ventura, who's walked three-plus batters per game over the course of his three major league seasons. So how important will plate discipline be?
"It's very important," Hinch told reporters.
"He's a tough pitcher. We faced him once here in Kansas City during the summer. It's a tough call whether to be aggressive versus him, versus be very selective. If you fall behind him, it's a bigger challenge to hit him.
"So you've got to be ready to hit. He does spray the ball from time to time, but he has electrifying stuff when he's on. Velocity, top notch. Good breaking ball. Understands the moment.
"He pitches with a lot of emotion. There's probably going to be a few people in the stands that are elevating that intensity tomorrow night.
"So getting a good pitch to hit is always important, regardless. When you get a pitcher of his caliber, where it's difficult to put borderline pitches in play in your favor, and so you've got to really zone in to do damage.
"You might get a few mistakes, but you won't get many."
Game Time - 7:30 PM EDT from Kansas City...
|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|
|Evan Gattis - DH||Kendrys Morales - DH|
|Luis Valbuena - 3B||Mike Moustakas - 3B|
|Chris Carter - 1B||Salvador Perez - C|
|Jason Castro - C||Alex Gordon - LF|
|Jake Marisnick - CF||Alex Rios - RF|
|Collin McHugh - RHP||Yordano Ventura - RHP|
Ventura vs the Astros:
McHugh vs the Royals: