Friday, April 15, 2016

Keuchel aims to continue home dominance on JRD

Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel returns home with hopes of picking up where he left off at Minute Maid Park last year, as the Astros welcome Mike Pelfrey and the Tigers on Friday for the start of a three-game series at Minute Maid Park onJackie Robinson Day.
The Tigers and Astros last met in August as the teams headed in different directions, Detroit finishing out a struggling season after trading away players at the Deadline and Houston trying to continue its rise to contention. Eight months later, the Tigers return hoping to continue their strong start, having won their last three against Pittsburgh, while the Astros try to rebound from a rough opening stretch.
A strong start from Keuchel would certainly improve Houston's chances at the latter. The lefty has split his two starts so far this season but has also battled walks, including six over 5 2/3 innings Sunday at Milwaukee. Neither of those starts were at home, where he went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA in 18 starts last year. One of those wins came against the Tigers, whose offense he held to one run over seven innings with eight strikeouts.
Keuchel also beat Kansas City in the AL Division Series in his only home postseason start. He became the first pitcher in Major League history to finish a season with at least 15 wins while being undefeated at home. He hasn't lost at home since July 25, 2014.
Things to know
• Tigers and Astros players and coaches will wear No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day festivities.
"Obviously, when you reflect on it, it takes a different meaning," Tigers outfielder Justin Upton said. "But every year, it's an honor to wear 42. In the relationships you build through the game, you know that you would never have the opportunity to do that without Jackie's sacrifices. It's a special day every year."
• Ian Kinsler is 7-for-22 with a home run off Keuchel. Four of those hits came in 12 at-bats in 2013, Kinsler's final season with the rival Texas Rangers. Victor Martinez is 4-for-9 with a home run against Keuchel.
• Pelfrey struggled in the cold of Comerica Park in his Tigers debut Saturday, allowing six runs on eight this over 3 2/3 innings with temperatures around freezing. He'll get more hospitable conditions in Houston.
• The Tigers could have a short bullpen for Friday's opener, giving Pelfrey a longer pitch count. Closer Francisco Rodriguez will be off after pitching the last three days. Mark Lowe has pitched three of the last four days, including four outs Thursday, and will probably get a day of rest. Drew VerHagen also has pitched three of the last four days, capped by a 27-pitch outing Thursday. Justin Wilson could be a spot closer, with Kyle Ryan, Buck Farmer and Logan Kensing in support.

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