HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — In their run to the franchise’s first World Series title in 30 years, the Kansas City Royals had a number of memorable wins. Perhaps the most lasting took place at Minute Maid Park. The reigning champions return to Houston for a rematch of last season’s AL division series Monday night looking to spoil the Astros’ home opener in the first of a four-game set. First pitch is set for 7:10, with pregame at 6:30 on KTTN AM 1600 and KTTN FM 92.3.
Kansas City’s dream of a long-awaited championship was nearly derailed in Houston after the Astros won two of the first three games in the best-of-five ALDS and trailed 6-2 in Game 4 entering the eighth inning. The Royals, though, scored five times in the inning and Eric Hosmer added a two-run homer in the ninth to seal an improbable 9-6 victory.
They came from behind again in Game 5, erasing a two-run deficit by scoring the final seven runs in a 7-2 win to reach the ALCS.
After splitting a season-opening two-game series against the New York Mets, the Royals (4-1) swept three games from Minnesota. They rallied for the second time in the series Sunday, scoring twice in the ninth inning before pinch-runner Terrance Gore raced home on a wild pitch in the 10th for a 4-3 victory.
Including eight in the playoffs, Kansas City has 50 come-from-behind wins since the start of last season.
“I don’t know if I’m impressed anymore,” manager Ned Yost told the team’s official website. “But it’s just their fight and will to win. They just never give up. Doesn’t matter what the situation is, they keep battling.”
Kansas City’s bullpen appears to be among baseball’s best again this season, posting a 2.55 ERA in 17 2-3 innings. The relievers have allowed five runs, but Joakim Soria was responsible for three on opening day against the Mets.
Houston’s bullpen, meanwhile, has played a big role in its slow start, compiling a 6.65 ERA while allowing seven homers in 23 innings.
Ace Dallas Keuchel struggled with his control in the first inning Sunday and home runs from Jose Altuve and Preston Tucker weren’t enough in the Astros’ 3-2 loss at Milwaukee.
Houston’s pitchers have a 7.90 ERA during a 1-4 stretch, with no starter completing more than five innings.
The Astros (2-4) will try to win their fourth straight home opener Monday.
“I am looking forward to getting home and having a routine for a homestand,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “This has been a fun start to the season, but also the end of spring training and transitioning to two exhibition games at home and then right back out on the road trip, it’ll be nice to get home and get to our fans, play at our home ballpark and develop a little bit more of a routine.”
Collin McHugh, who took the loss in Game 5 of the ALDS, began the trend of ugly performances from the starters with a dismal season debut at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. He recorded just one out and allowed six runs, three hits and two walks in a 16-6 loss.
“It’s about as bad as you can draw it up,” McHugh said.
The right-hander limited the Royals to two runs over six innings in a 5-2 victory in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Chris Young gets the ball for Kansas City in its first road game of the season. He permitted two runs over five innings in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Mets.
The right-hander, who allowed a run in four innings of relief in Game 1 of the ALDS, is 4-1 with a 4.67 ERA in six career starts against Houston.