When he made his debut for the Kansas City Royals back on July 31, starting right-hander Johnny Cueto was supposed to be the final piece for the defending American League champions. Cueto’s fallen short of those expectations thus far, sporting a 4-7 record and 4.76 ERA over 13 starts.
But Cueto will get an early shot at redemption when takes the mound in Game 2 of the AL Division Series against the Houston Astros’ Scott Kazmir on Friday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Cueto will try to keep the Royals out of a 0-2 series hole after they fell 5-2 in Game 1, while Houston’s Kazmir seek his first postseason victory since his days with Tampa Bay back in 2008.
Cueto has had his share of struggle in the playoffs. He’s 0-2 with a 5.19 ERA in three career starts and hasn’t gone past the fifth inning.
The 29-year-old faces an Astros lineup that looked especially potent at the top of the order in Game 1. Second baseman Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored at the lead-off spot, and Colby Rasmus drove in two more with a first-inning ground out and a solo home run in the eighth.
Houston’s offense could be even stronger should centerfielder Carlos Gomez return in the starting lineup. Gomez was reportedly dealing with a strained left intercostal, a muscle nestled between the ribs, but he came on as a pinch runner for designated hitter Evan Gattis in Game 1.
Gomez smacked a 424-foot home run in Houston’s wild card victory over the New York Yankees earlier this week, and at times this season his bat has helped protect Gattis, who led the team with 27 home runs and 88 RBIs in the regular season.
The Royals, who were seventh in the majors in runs scored, saw both of their runs come off designated hitter Kendry Morales’ home runs in the second and fourth innings. But as a whole Kansas City could only scrap together four hits against Houston starter Collin McHugh and the bullpen allowed just two more hits with closer Luke Gregerson recording two strikeouts for the save.
Kazmir can rest easy knowing the Astros pen is in the zone, and potentially get back on track after a poor string of starts in the final two months of the regular season. The 31-year-old went 1-6 over this last 11 starts and gave up 34 earned runs.
However, right after Houston acquired Kazmir from Oakland at the trade deadline, he lit up the Royals on the road with a seven-inning, three-hit shutout back on July 24.
First Pitch: 3:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
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