Through four innings Sunday, Edinson Volquez was outdueling Dallas Keuchel.
“He had his best stuff,” Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez said of Volquez. “He was throwing filthy change-ups, running sinkers, 95 to 96 (mph) and that big curve.”
But a couple of misplaced pitches in the fifth inning cost Volquez one of the most memorable games of his career, and he wound up with the loss in the Royals’ 4-2 defeat in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.
Through four innings, Volquez had struck out six, and the only hit he surrendered was Chris Carter’s third-inning shot to the wall that Royals left fielder Alex Gordon fielded and fired to Ben Zobrist at second for the out.
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But the fifth inning was Volquez’s undoing.
He struck out Gomez but walked Luis Valbuena. Carter again slashed a hit to left, but there would be no out at second this time. The Astros had runners at second and third.
Catcher Jason Castro, the ninth-place hitter, came up and fell behind 1-2.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez called for a fastball. Volquez shook him off and threw a change-up that Castro grounded into center field to give the Astros a 2-1 lead.
“I made a mistake with Castro,” Volquez said.
One from which the Royals and Volquez wouldn’t recover. An inning later, Gomez delivered a two-out RBI single to center after George Springer led off with a double. Volquez had struck out Evan Gattis but couldn’t finish off the inning.
Royals manager Ned Yost pulled Volquez, who finished with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, one short of matching a franchise record for strikeouts in a postseason game.
“Volquez threw unbelievably good,” Yost said. “Both pitches they capitalized on with runners in scoring position were actually great pitches.”
On a day when Volquez might have had his best stuff, at least early on, the Royals couldn’t take advantage.