Saturday, April 16, 2016

Keuchel carries Astros with 8 scoreless frames

Dallas Keuchel pitched eight scoreless innings to stymie the American League's highest-scoring team, helping the Astros beat the Tigers, 1-0, at Minute Maid Park on Friday, snapping Houston's three-game losing streak and ending Detroit's three-game win streak.
Keuchel retired 15 of 16 batters at one stretch in handing the Tigers their first road loss in five games. The Tigers went into the game scoring 49 runs over their first eight games.
"We walked away with a 1-0 win with our best pitcher on the mound before a home crowd," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He loves this ballpark and pitches very well here. There is something about pitching here that he responds to."
George Springer scored from second base on a Colby Rasmus one-out single in the first inning off Detroit starter Mike Pelfrey for the game's only score. Pelfrey allowed just the one run despite putting at least two baserunners on in each of the first three innings.
"In the end, with that guy on the other side, it wasn't good enough," Pelfrey said, referring to his matchup vs. Keuchel. "Pretty impressive on his part with [our] lineup."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
What could have been: Nine of the first 14 Houston batters reached base, but the Astros managed only a run. Through three innings there were four hits, five walks and six left on base. The Astros ended up needing just the one run thanks to Keuchel's effort.
"It proved to be big enough with Dallas on the mound," Rasmus said. "He threw me a sinker away and I was able to get it up and turn it into a hit. That was a tough series we just had against the Royals, so to get that one today is big."
Through three innings the Astros had four hits, five walks and six left on base, but they ended up needing just the one run thanks to Keuchel's effort.
Saving the situation: It didn't look as though it would be a long outing for Pelfrey, as he put seven of the first 10 Astros on base and fought command issues from the get-go. Still, he limited the damage to one run in the first. More important, perhaps, he lasted six strong innings, affording a weary and limited bullpen -- which accounted for 14 innings in four days against Pittsburgh -- a more manageable night than it may have expected.
"I think he was getting slightly frustrated with himself [in the first] because he was yanking the ball across his body," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He did a great job of finding a way."
A home gem: Keuchel said he didn't feel like he pitched all that well in his first start in Houston this season, but he improved his home winning streak at Minute Maid Park to 17 games -- dating back to his final home start in 2014 -- with eight scoreless innings. He allowed only five hits, all of them singles. Keuchel, who struck out four and walked one, allowed first-inning singles to Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera, a second-inning single toNick Castellanos, a third-inning single to Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez's base hit in the seventh. Never taxed, he threw 108 pitches, 72 for strikes.
In the sixth inning, Keuchel struck out Cabrera on a slider to end a 10-pitch at-bat.
"They're all important with that lineup, probably one of the better lineups I'll face all year long," Keuchel said. "It's fun to compete against that quality of a lineup and arguably the best hitter of my generation with Miggy. I always look forward to it."
WHAT'S NEXT
Tigers: Ace Justin Verlander gets the ball on Saturday for the second game of three between these American League rivals in Houston. Verlander was rocked for seven runs and 10 hits his last time out, against Pittsburgh, but has a 1.35 ERA in his last three starts against the Astros dating back to 2013.
Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh had a bounceback game in his previous start, throwing seven scoreless innings in an 8-2 home win over the Royals, but he still has a 6.14 ERA after lasting only a third of an inning in his season debut at New York against the Yankees. In going against Verlander on Saturday, the Astros will have faced a right-hander in their first 12 games of the season; they're scheduled to face a right-hander in their first 13 games.

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