The Royals trailed by a run heading to the bottom of the sixth inning Sunday against the Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
And even after George Springer led off the inning by launching a drive into deep left-center field, it looked like center fielder Lorenzo Cain would bail out Royals starter Edinson Volquez.
Cain ran down the ball and extended his left arm in time to grab the ball, but it hit the palm of his glove and bounced out.
Springer wound up on second base, advanced to third on a ground-out to second by Carlos Correa and — following an intentional walk to Colby Rasmus and a Volquez strikeout of Evan Gattis —scored on Carlos Gomez’s single up the middle.
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“Definitely got to make that play,” Cain said. “It’s a play I always make. I just caught it in the wrong spot and it popped out.”
Cain also gave the Royals the first lead of the game with a solo home run that cleared the Crawford Boxes in left field. He fouled off five straight pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat before connecting on a slider.
“He kept going two-seamers and change-ups away,” Cain said. “Just put my hands in and got the barrel on it.”
The ground rules of Minute Maid Park were put to use in the eighth inning Sunday when Rasmus hit what would have been a sky-high fly ball to Alex Rios — if the roof were open.
The ball clanged off the steel girders and fell back to earth, where it fell in the shallow outfield grass. Correa, who was on first after a leadoff single, scampered to second after initially holding up and beat the throw.
The ground rules state that a batted ball that strikes the roof in fair territory is a live ball. Runners can advance at their own risk and if it is caught, the batter is out, just like an ordinary fly ball. The ball hitting the roof is judged fair or foul in relation to where it strikes the ground or is touched by a fielder.
Don’t run on Alex
The first Astros batter to hit the ball out of the infield Sunday didn’t stay on base long.
Chris Carter was introduced to Alex Gordon’s throwing arm in the third inning when he tried to take second base on a ball hit down the left-field line.
Gordon gathered the ball in the corner and fired a strike to Ben Zobrist, who tagged out Carter at second.
“I know this outfield pretty well. It’s a pretty short porch so I know playing off the wall if I get a good bounce there’s always a possibility with any base runner,” Gordon said. “With this wall you never know where it’s going to bounce because the wall’s so unpredictable.
“I was waiting for it to bounce a little bit harder and it didn’t, so I just went and picked it up and chucked it as hard as I could.”