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3 keys for the Royals in Game 5

HOUSTON -- So the Royals have forced a decisive Game 5 in the American League Division Series against the Astros, and they will have their hometown fans at Kauffman Stadium screaming and urging them on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

But the Royals also will have some history on their side -- they now have won nine of their past 10 elimination games, including two last season and one on Monday afternoon, a thrilling 9-6 come-from-behind victory in Game 4 at Minute Maid Park.

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With that in mind, here are three keys for Kansas City to win Wednesday.

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1. Use the crowd
We have seen plenty of times over the past two seasons when the Kauffman Stadium crowd has simply willed the Royals to a win. That was evident on Friday in a 5-4 come-from-behind win in Game 2, and of course, throughout last year's postseason. If Kansas City stays close early or even gets a lead, that crowd will play a massive role in providing energy.

"There's no question, we perform better when that crowd gets going," manager Ned Yost said. "It energizes us."

2. One time, Johnny
OK, so it's been said plenty of times, but the reason general manager Dayton Moore acquired Johnny Cueto just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline was for big games in October. This would qualify. Cueto has struggled early in numerous games with the Royals, as he did last Friday. Cueto gave up four quick runs, including a homer to Colby Rasmus leading off the third. Then, Cueto retired 12 of the next 14 hitters, which allowed Kansas City to stage a comeback. But you know the front office is crossing its collective fingers that Cueto turns in a superb shutdown start, and one that includes containing Houston early.

3. Good at-bats
Two slumping Royals -- Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon -- each came up with big at-bats in the five-run eighth inning on Monday, so both should be feeling better about themselves at the dish. Hosmer even added a two-run homer in the ninth, and the Royals obviously would benefit from both getting hot in Game 5. But actually, all of Kansas City's hitters put some professional at-bats together in the eighth inning, and that may carry over into Wednesday. If the Royals use their "keep the line moving" approach, they should be in good shape.

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.
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