KANSAS CITY -- After battling the Royals for five games in the American League Division Series, the Astros left Kauffman Stadium following a 7-2 loss with plenty of pride in what they had accomplished and disappointment for the season coming to an end. Houston also expressed a lot of respect for Kansas City.
The defending AL champions needed a stunning late comeback in Game 4 on Monday afternoon against the Astros at Minute Maid Park to avoid losing the series. Houston led in every game of the series, including 2-0 after two innings Wednesday night.
"We congratulate the Royals, a class organization," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "[Manager] Ned Yost, the group over there is really good. This is a hard-fought series, and we accomplished a lot getting into this series. We accomplished a lot in this series, but it doesn't feel very good tonight."
Houston ace Dallas Keuchel, who got the victory in his Game 3 start and gave up a three-run homer while pitching in relief during Game 5, said Kansas City was tough.
"We just didn't have the extra it factor, and playing at their home park, we knew it was going to be a dog fight," Keuchel said. "At the same time, we came out and hit a two-run homer to start off the game, and [we] really felt like we had the energy and drive to win. [Kansas City] has done it all year. They have the best record in the [AL] for a reason, and we just weren't good enough tonight."
Throughout the series, the Astros were compared to the Royals of a year ago -- a young team that took people by surprise. Both teams were built primarily through the Draft, and both were the surprise stories of the year.
"They're one of the best teams in the American League, and I thought we played right there with them," catcher Jason Castro said. "That gives us some confidence we're capable of beating anybody. I think it stings a little, because we were so close to finishing the series out at home. That's the way baseball is sometimes. We can only just use that moving forward to help us get better."
When asked about Kansas City, Houston second baseman Jose Altuve reflected on his own club
"I sat down today before the game and obviously I wanted to win," Altuve said. "I said to [myself], 'No matter what happens, at the end of the day, I know everybody is going to play hard.' I know the city is happy for us. They're proud of us. We played good and we left everything we had on the field."