KANSAS CITY -- While Astros manager A.J. Hinch was discussing why he wasn't starting banged-up outfielder Carlos Gomez prior to Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday, he praised Jake Marisnick as the team's best defensive center fielder.
Marisnick, who replaced Gomez, showed off his skills in the fifth inning when he made a long run and a terrific diving catch in center to rob Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar of what would have been an RBI hit. It was one of several great defensive plays the Astros made in their 5-2 victory over the Royals.
"These guys have been doing this all season," Astros pitcher Collin McHugh said. "I try not to take it for granted, but you kind of expect them to make the plays. George [Springer] in right field, Marisnick -- whoever is playing center, Marisnick, Gomez, [Colby] Rasmus. When balls are hit, I just expect them to make the plays."
According to Statcast™, Marisnick hit a top speed of 19.1 mph, and he had a route efficiency of 95.5 percent, while covering 43 feet.
"He's got to read the ball off the bat and make the diving catch," Hinch said.
Gomez, who's been dealing with a strained left intercostal muscle, is expected to return to the lineup for Friday's Game 2 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). He blasted a home run Tuesday in Houston's 3-0 win over the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser. It was only Gomez's second start since Sept. 12.
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.