By Scott Stone and Steve Benko
The Houston Astros took control of the American League Division Series with a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals Sunday evening. The Astros won the game off the bats of some unlikely heroes.
Coming into Game 3, Chris Carter was 2-for-8 in the playoffs, with both hits coming against the Royals. Carter said that he doesn’t know what has been different, except his execution at the plate. After the game he said that it felt good to be able to come through in a big situation.
“I don’t know what’s been different, but I’ve been getting pitches up in the zone and not missing them,” Carter said. “That’s been the biggest thing for me. After struggling so much this year and just having the success I’ve been having the last couple of weeks, it’s been nice to contribute and help us win games.
“It means a lot to me to have my organization behind me like this. I struggled early in the season I think every year, and I kind of pulled together toward the end, but it’s nice to have that feeling, that they have the confidence in me that I’ll see come around and come through.”
Carter went 3-for-3 and fell just a triple short of the cycle; he’s now hitting .455 in the postseason and was a big reason for the Astros’ victory in game three.
Dallas Keuchel improved to 16-0 at home this season. When asked about why he has been so effective at home, he joked but said that he didn’t really know what it is.
“It’s just one more win from 15,” he quipped.
Keuchel’s dominance showed in game three, as it has all season. He did make one mistake, hanging a breaking ball up in the zone that Lorenzo Cain took deep to left field for a home run. Other than Cain’s bomb, Keuchel was surgical. He gave up one run on five hits over seven frames, bringing his postseason ERA to 0.69.
Keuchel’s high pitch count wasn’t a concern for manager A.J. Hinch, but when Cain stepped up to the plate in the seventh, he made a trip out to the mound to speak with his starter. On being asked if there would be wrestling match should Hinch attempt to pull him from the game, Keuchel joked:
“No, he probably knew I was going to bite his head off.”
Astros catcher Jason Castro snapped an 0-for-9 hitless streak to start the playoffs with a two-run single in the fifth off of Edinson Volquez. Castro mentioned after the game that it was great to come through for his team, but also that it was all set up by Luis Valbuena and Carter.
“It was nice,” Castro said. “Valbuena and Carter kind of set the stage and made that situation possible. I was just trying to get a pitch out over the plate just to put something in play in the middle of the field, just to get at least one run in. Fortunately it got through and we got both. That was a good time to get my first hit of the postseason, that’s for sure.”
Colby Rasmus continued his postseason success at the plate. He only recorded one official at-bat, but was walked three times, which brought his OBP to .750 in this series.
Rasmus has thrived in the playoffs, dating back to 2009 with the Cardinals. At just 22, went 4-for-9 in the NLDS, while drawing two walks. Coming into today’s game, Rasmus was hitting .444; a single in the eighth brought his average to .500.
Rasmus and the rest of the Astros look to clinch the Division Series in the matinee on Monday at 12:10.