HOUSTON -- After giving up eight runs and 16 hits in 12 2/3 innings in his previous two starts -- both wins -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel returned to his dominant form in the Astros' 6-1 win over the A's on Wednesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
Keuchel threw seven innings without allowing an earned run, and he scattered six hits to become the first Astros pitcher to start a season 6-0 since Roger Clemens was 9-0 in 2004. Keuchel extended his career-long winning streak to eight games, dating to last season.
"I think he was as sharp as he was early in the year," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "They made him work a couple of innings that were pretty long, which got him out of there after the seventh. He really dialed it up in a couple of innings when they had the bases loaded. ... The perfectionist he is, he's probably going to be a little harder on himself than I am, but I love the way he found ways not to break."
Indeed. The A's loaded the bases with one out in the fourth on a walk -- on a tight 3-2 pitch to Billy Butler that had been called a strike earlier in the game -- and two singles, and Keuchel responded by getting a couple of ground balls to end the inning.
The only run Oakland managed came when first baseman Chris Carter went to his right to field a two-out grounder off the bat of Mark Canha, but it skipped off his glove to allow Butler to score from second.
"Man, I feel like I had to fasten my seat belt pretty early on," Keuchel said."I just tried to hang in there. You've got to credit the defense for making some huge plays. That's Major League baseball right there. That's a quality team, very resilient, and I'm just happy to be there."
Keuchel thought his command was spotty at times.
"I was able to get some four-seam [fastballs] over, and that's really what I hadn't been doing lately," Keuchel said. "It's been all two-seams. I hadn't really been getting that outer corner as accurate as I would like, and early on I was able to establish that. I knew if I was able to keep the strikes coming, I'd be in an all right position."
With a 1.67 ERA, an unbeaten record and his role as the ace of the staff for the team with the best record in the American League, Keuchel could be pushing himself into consideration for a starting job in the All-Star Game. As the longest-tenured pitcher on the team, he's just glad to experience some winning.
"It's the most fun I've had in a long time," Keuchel said. "That's absolutely no panic. [The A's] took the first game here and we continued to grind and make adjustments, so when we do that, it's fun here. I think the guys are expecting to win now."