FINAL SCORE: Royals 7 - 2 Astros
The Kansas City Royals used two three-run innings and rode the arm of Johnny Cueto to a 7-2 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the American League Division Series at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday night. The Royals move on to play the Toronto Blue Jays in their second straight American League Championship Series appearance.
Cueto was masterful, allowing just two hits through eight innings while striking out eight batters. He retired the last 19 batters and looked like the pitcher that Kansas City expected to get at the trade deadline.
His only blemish came in the second inning when Luis Valbuena put the Astros on the board by belting a two-out, two-run homer into the right-field bullpen to quiet the Kansas City crowd. The home run scored Evan Gattis, who reached base after a hard-hit grounder resulted in a diving grab but errant throw by Mike Moustakas that pulled Eric Hosmer off the bag.
The Royals answered in the fourth, however, and took advantage of a little help from the baseball gods. Lorenzo Cain got on base with a check-swing single before Eric Hosmer fought off a pitch and blooped a single to center. Cain was running on the pitch and kept running when Carlos Gomez fell down after fielding the ball in center field, which allowed Cain to circle the bases and score.
Kansas City then rattled off three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. With runners on second and third, Alex Rios greeted new pitcher Mike Fiers with a double down the left-field line and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist.
In the bottom of the eighth, Kendrys Morales basically put the game on ice by blasting a three-run home run over the left-field wall off Dallas Keuchel for a 7-2 lead. Keuchel, a potential Cy Young winner, was pitching on just two days' rest.
The Royals managed to win all three games of the series in come-from-behind fashion and never seemed nervous with their backs against the wall. The Kansas City crowd was rocking on Wednesday night and remained standing for much of the game.
Kansas City will need a good night's rest on Thursday to prepare for the arrival of the Blue Jays for Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on Fox.
David Price will be available as the potential Game 1 starter for the Blue Jays. Edinson Volquez is next in line to start for the Royals, but Ned Yost might shake things up.