HOUSTON -- After losing, 9-6, to the Royals in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Monday afternoon, the Astros will put it all on the line in Game 5 on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 in Kansas City. Right-hander Collin McHugh, who beat the Royals in Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium, will get the ball in the winner-take-all Game 5.
Here are three keys that Houston will need to win and advance to the AL Championship Series.
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As tough as it was for the Astros to stomach the Royals scoring seven runs in the final two innings to win Game 4, there's no time for a pity party. Houston will be thrust into a hostile environment in Game 5, and it will have to find a way to respond. Maybe the Astros can draw inspiration from the 2005 club, which suffered a tough loss in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals at home and flew to St. Louis to win Game 6 and clinch the series two days later.
2. Keep swinging for fences
The Astros tied a franchise postseason record by clubbing four home runs in Game 4, but they still lost. That's rare. They were 33-3 in the regular season when hitting at least three homers, so if Carlos Correa, Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez stay loose and keep swinging it like they have been, Houston should be in good shape against a hittable Johnny Cueto.
3. Close out the game
Astros closer Luke Gregerson feels they let a pair of games slip away in losses to the Royals in Games 2 and 4. He's right. Houston had a two-run lead through five innings in Game 2 and lost, and then suffered through the eighth inning in Game 4. It's win or go home Wednesday, so it will be all hands on deck late in the game if the Astros do get a lead. Does ace Dallas Keuchel have a couple of relief innings in him?
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.