The Astros earned a 5-2 victory over the Royals in Thursday's American League Division Series opener in much the same way they had earned many of their wins this season -- a blend of power and superb defense.
Houston connected for a pair of homers to pad its Game 1 lead, but it was a defensive gem that may have saved the night for the Astros. Statcast™ tracked each of those home runs, as well as the highlight-reel catch, to provide an in-depth look at each of the game-changing plays.
The other ALDS matchup also kept Statcast™ busy earlier in the day, with the player-tracking technology breaking down two more home runs and a mad dash to the plate in the Rangers' 5-3 Game 1 win over the Blue Jays.
Here's an in-depth look at all of the biggest plays from Thursday's two ALDS contests, courtesy of Statcast™.
Marisnick lays out to halt rally
The Royals had only two innings on Thursday night in which they put multiple runners on base -- and Astros center fielder Jake Marisnick did all he could to make sure at least one of those frames would not result in a run. With runners on first and second and only one out in the fifth, Marisnick made a sprawling catch to take a hit -- and possibly an RBI -- away from Alcides Escobar. Marisnick took his first step just 0.4 seconds after the ball left Escobar's bat, then reached a max speed of 19.1 mph as he sprinted in on the sinking liner. He ultimately covered a total distance of 43 feet, all while logging a route efficiency of 95.5 percent, to help preserve a 4-2 lead at the time.
"Huge," Astros pitcher Collin McHugh said of the catch. "These guys have been doing this all season. I try not to take it for granted, but you kind of expect them to make the plays. … They've come through in a lot of clutch situations for me this year, behind me, and none bigger than today with Marisnick, for sure."
DeShields dashes home Delino DeShields Jr. helped extend the Rangers' early lead to 2-0 Thursday when he raced home from second base on an Adrian Beltre line drive to center field. DeShields reached a max speed of 21 mph, as he kicked it into another gear over the final 90 feet. It took the speedy Rangers outfielder only 3.1 seconds to go from third to home, a new personal best for DeShields this season. His previous fastest time from third to home was 3.2 seconds, which came on Aug. 22, against the Tigers, when he again scored from second on a base hit.
Hitting 21 mph was nothing new for DeShields, however, as he reached that speed a Major League-best 121 times on the basepaths during the regular season. The next most occurrences of a player hitting at least 21 mph was the Marlins' Dee Gordon doing so 91 times, followed by the Reds' Billy Hamilton's 90.
Rasmus tees off for another homer Colby Rasmus hit his second home run in as many games Thursday night, providing the Astros with an insurance run late in their Game 1 victory. Just two nights after homering in the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser against the Yankees, Rasmus hit a towering drive that traveled a projected 437 feet against the Royals. That marked Rasmus' third-longest home run of the season, trailing only a 444-foot shot he hit on Sept. 9 against the A's and a 438-foot homer on May 9 against the Angels. His latest home run jumped off the bat at a scorching 106.8 mph, good for his fourth-hardest hit home run on the year.
Springer hits moonshot for first postseason homer
Astros outfielder George Springer left little doubt about his first career postseason home run, hitting a towering shot into the left-field seats at Kauffman Stadium. Springer took an 88-mph pitch from Chris Young and turned it around at 108.9 mph. The ball then reached a soaring max height of 138.3 feet -- easily surpassing his season high of 115.9 feet -- on its way to traveling a projected 422 feet. That projected distance marked the third-longest home run of Springer's young career, just six feet shy of his personal best, a 428-foot blast from May 15 against the Blue Jays.
Odor's shot leaves yard in a flash
Though home runs are often described as having left the park in a hurry, that description certainly applied to Rougned Odor's laser shot in Game 1 of the ALDS. Odor jumped all over an 89-mph offering from David Price in the seventh inning, turning it around at a scorching 112.9 mph, the hardest home run hit by any Rangers player this season. The previous high was a 112.3-mph blast from Josh Hamilton on Aug. 2.
Not only was it the hardest-hit homer, however, but the ball also came off of Odor's bat at a launch angle of only 15.7 degrees. That was easily the lowest launch angle of the season on any Rangers home run, eclipsing the previous low of 18.3 degrees, which came on a Mitch Moreland home run on Aug. 9. The high exit velocity paired with the low launch angle led to the ball reaching a max height of only 39.8 feet, yet another season low on a Rangers home run. The previous low was 52.4 feet, which Odor was also responsible for, on Sept. 8.
Bautista's blast pulls Jays within one Jose Bautista breathed life into the Rogers Centre crowd with a mammoth sixth-inning home run, though Toronto ultimately came up short in its Game 1 loss to the Rangers. Still, Bautista provided one of the Jays' top highlights on the day, sending a Keone Kela pitch off his bat at 108.1 mph and into the left-center-field seats. The ball launched off his bat at a sharp angle of 23 degrees and had a projected hang time of only 5.7 seconds as it traveled a projected 422 feet.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.