For most of spring training reports from Indians camp suggested that Carlos Santana was struggling with his attempted transition from catcher to third base, but apparently manager Terry Francona disagreed with those assessments.
Francona just told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that Santana will be the Indians’ primary third base, which means last year’s primary third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall’s role is likely diminished and very much in flux. Or as Francona put it: “I’m not exactly sure how that’s going to play itself out.”
Santana has never played a game at third base in the majors and last played there as a minor leaguer way back in 2008 at Single-A, but the Indians decided they’d rather have Yan Gomes behind the plate and wanted to avoid moving Santana to designated hitter. Santana as a DH seemingly would have been an easy choice, especially considering they didn’t add another big bat for the DH spot after instead shifting him to third base, but Francona and company clearly believe he’s capable of being decent defensively.
After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.
The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card Game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.
Collin McHugh tossed six innings in the victory, allowing just two runs on four hits and a walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.
The Royals showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.
Consistent with their success during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. Meanwhile, the Royals struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.
Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.
After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.
According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.
The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.
UPDATE: Play has resumed after a 47-minute rain delay. Chris Young has replaced Ventura for the Royals.
8:30 p.m. ET: And now we’re officially in a rain delay in Kansas City. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts and how it might impact Ventura and McHugh.
8:29 p.m. ET: The Royals are on the board in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Astros.
After the Astros tacked on another run against Yordano Ventura in the top of the second inning on an RBI single from Jose Altuve, Kendrys Morales connected for a solo homer against Collin McHugh to lead off the bottom of the inning. The ball traveled an estimated 369 feet near the right-field foul pole.
With rain falling at Kauffman Stadium, the Astros lead 3-1 as we move into the top of the third inning.