Two relative newcomers on the postseason scene begin their best-of-five American League Division Series tonight when Kansas City (95-67) hosts Houston (86-76). The Astros beat the New York Yankees 3-0 in the wild card game on Tuesday to reach this ALDS.
The Royals ended a 29-year playoffs drought last season when they made a run to the World Series. Houston is in the postseason for the first time since 2005.
The Royals went just 11-17 in the last month, but they had a huge lead in their division and that seems to be of no concern. Last year, they beat the Orioles in the American League Championship Series before losing to San Francisco in a seven-game World Series.
Just two seasons removed from 111 losses, Houston won four of six against the Royals this year. In those games, they held K.C. hitters to a .215 average and 13 runs.
On the mound tonight, Houston right-hander Collin McHugh (19-7, 3.89 ERA) faces Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA). In 14 starts in the second-half, McHugh is 10-2 with a 3.11 ERA while Ventura is 9-2 with a 3.56 ERA in 15 starts since the All-Star game.
Last night, Jake Arrieta pitched a four-hit shutout with no walks and 11 strikeouts in the Cubs’ 4-0 win over the Pirates in the National League wild card game.
A few notes on Arrieta’s outing:
* Arrieta is the first pitcher in baseball history with a double-digit strikeout no-walk complete-game shutout in the playoffs.
* The Cubs have won 14 consecutive games started by Arrieta. In his last 10 starts through last night, he has allowed just two earned runs in 76 innings.
* Arrieta is the fourth pitcher to throw a shutout with at least 10 strikeouts in a winner-take-all postseason game. The other three are Madison Bumgarner, Justin Verlander and Sandy Koufax.
Before the playoffs began here were the odds from Bovada for each team to win the World Series:
Toronto Blue Jays - 3/1
Kansas City Royals - 5/1
St. Louis Cardinals - 5/1
Los Angeles Dodgers - 6/1
New York Mets - 7/1
Chicago Cubs - 10/1
Pittsburgh Pirates - 11/1
Texas Rangers - 12/1
Houston Astros - 14/1
New York Yankees - 14/1
Earlier today: The Texas Rangers never trailed in beating David Price and the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 in Game 1 of their ALDS in Toronto. Price allowed five runs and five hits over seven innings including homers to Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos. The Rangers get the jump in this series which continues on Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. at Rogers Centre.