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3 keys for Astros to take 2-0 ALDS lead

KANSAS CITY -- The Astros stunned the defending American League-champion Royals by winning Game 1 of the AL Division Series, 5-2, on Thursday night, setting them up to take control of the series with a win in Friday afternoon's 3:30 p.m. ET Game 2 on FOX Sports 1.

Following are three keys to Houston's success.

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1. Stay cool
The Astros, who didn't have a player in their starting lineup over 30 years old on Thursday, have been as cool as ice in the postseason. They shut out the Yankees in New York on Tuesday to win the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, then they jumped on the Royals early on Thursday and cruised to a win. Nothing seems to bother them, even when they strike out 14 times, as they did in Game 1. If they can remain calm under pressure, they'll be sitting pretty.

:: ALDS: Astros vs. Royals -- Tune-in info ::

2. Kazmir turns it around
Houston is rolling the dice by starting veteran lefty Scott Kazmir in Game 2. Sure, he's the only member of the rotation with postseason experience, but since throwing seven scoreless innings on July 24 in his first start with the Astros after being acquired from the A's, he's gone 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA, allowing 75 hits and 13 homers in 12 starts (66 1/3 innings). Expect him to be on a short leash.

3. Keep swinging
The Astros have hit two homers in each of their two postseason wins -- Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus in Tuesday's Wild Card win over the Yankees, and George Springer and Rasmus in Game 1 of the ALDS. When Houston hit two homers in a game in the regular season, it went 57-11, so the formula has worked well for the Astros and their deep, powerful lineup.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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