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ALDS Game Two Preview: Houston Astros At Kansas City Royals

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Scott Kazmir will look to recapture his bottled lightning against the Royals, reeling from a game one loss and countering with their own trade deadline starting pitching acquisition, Johnny Cueto.

Colby Rasmus leads a surging Astros offense into Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
Colby Rasmus leads a surging Astros offense into Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (86-76) vs. Kansas City Royals (95-67), October 9, 2015 2:30 PM CDT

Series: 1-0, Houston

TV: Fox Sports One (FS1)
Online: MLB.com (subscription required; $4.99 for all postseason minus World Series), online at Fox Sports Go or with the Fox Sports Go mobile app
Radio: Houston, TX [Flagship] 790 AM KBME, Spanish 1010 AM KLAT, ESPN radio 97.5
Royals SB Nation Blog: Royals Review

Pitching Matchup:

LHP Scott Kazmir (7-11, 3.10 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)

For a detailed breakdown of the pitching available to both teams in this game, view Perry Mattern's excellent article here.

Preview:

Without going into too many details (again, Perry wrote an outstanding article about it, which I linked directly above this) about the pitching, suffice to say both starting pitchers in today's game desperately need strong outings today to recover some of their offseason earning potential on the free agent market.

Oh yeah...and they both desperately want to win for their teams, too.  Let's not forget that.

The Astros rode the high tide of a nearly flawless victory last night to a 5-2 win and a 1-0 series lead over the Kansas City Royals.  The shocked crowd was quiet enough that you could almost hear the voice actor from the original "Mortal Kombat" video game say "TOAST-EEE!" if you really strained for it.

The key to today's matchup will be jumping on the potentially overpowering Johnny Cueto and bum rushing every fastball he throws near the plate.  Generally speaking, one would prefer the Astros utilize more patience, work counts, and try to get Cueto out of the game...but the aggressive hack and slash formula has been working thus far in the postseason, and the Royals bullpen is a wasteland no Astros hitter should want to traverse.  So, the solution is to score early and often through aggression with Cueto early in the count.

George Springer and Colby Rasmus, who each homered in last night's game, will look to continue their torrid late season offensive run.  Jose Altuve was an absolute nightmare for Royals pitching in last night's game, and Carlos Correa showed signs of his immense talent with a solid single to right field in the first inning last night.  That top of the lineup will be the key, as they set the tone to begin the game at 2:30 PM CT.

Scott Kazmir has certainly been spotty in his time with the Astros, but Johnny Cueto has had some issues in his starts with Kansas City as well.  Kazmir has excellent numbers against the Royals this year, and Kaufmann Stadium is one of the most extreme pitcher's parks in baseball.  It would be unsurprising to see Kazmir record as many as 75% of his outs on fly balls to the outfield today...and equally unsurprising would be to see Kazmir give up a lot of hits.  Hopefully, however, he is up to the task of managing the scoring threats and minimizing the damage.  Taking a page out of Collin McHugh's playbook from his very effective start last night would not be a move that would go amiss for Scott Kazmir.

His entire hometown will be glued to their televisions, computer screens, tablets, phones and radios hanging on every pitch and cheering the Cypress native on.  Here's hoping he is the ace we need him to be...as well as the ace we deserve.