Springer, Rasmus pad lead with powerful blasts
KANSAS CITY -- The Astros looked right at home at spacious Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night, using their power to distance themselves from Kansas City in Game 1 of the American League Division Series with home runs from George Springer and Colby Rasmus.
That the home runs were something of a bonus in the 5-2 victory speaks to Houston's ability to score runs in multiple ways, as evidenced by a two-run first inning that didn't even include an extra-base hit.
"I think a lot of these guys are feeding off of what's going on -- the big moments, the big crowds -- and soaking it up," Rasmus said. "I feel we're doing what we've been doing all year -- just loving on each other, pulling for everybody and just enjoying playing baseball. Everyone's coming to the field just loving the game. That chemistry, those things are sometimes what puts you over the top."
Springer's solo blast to left-center, coming in the fifth inning on a 3-1 fastball from Royals right-hander Chris Young, extended Houston's lead to two runs behind starter Collin McHugh.
It was the first career postseason home run for Springer, who also singled in the ninth.
"I was happy to kind of extend our lead some," Springer said. "We were kind of needing something right there."
According to Statcast™, the ball left Springer's bat at 109 mph and landed a projected 422 feet away, representing his third-longest and third-hardest-hit home run.
Springer, 26, finished the regular season with 16 home runs, giving him 36 in his first two big league seasons. Three of those have come at Kauffman Stadium, where he's 8-for-15 (.533) in four career games.
"I kind of attempt to do the same thing every place I go," Springer said. "That's just hit the ball hard and get to first base. I'm not one to think about the size of a park, because at some point, balls do go over the fence. So, you know, you just have to go have a quality at-bat."
"Obviously, this time of year, big-time players come through and find a way to contribute," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "So he's obviously announcing his presence on this center stage. He likes playing here."
Rasmus reached base two times in four plate appearances, drawing a walk in the third ahead of his eighth-inning home run off Ryan Madson. Rasmus became the fifth player to record an extra-base hit in each of his first five postseason games. Rasmus had a double in each of the first three games of the 2009 National League Division Series as a member of the Cardinals, and he homered in the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser against the Yankees on Tuesday.
"It's a true blessing, especially in a situation like that when it was a big spot to where it would kind of hush them a little bit and got that crowd out of it somewhat, kind of deaden them," said Rasmus, who has five home runs in his last five games, including the final three contests of the regular season. "I love playing in these kind of games. The crowd gets pumped up, it gets the hair on my back standing up. I love it. I love coming to the yard knowing it's the best against the best."