Astros ace becomes first starter to have scoreless postseason outing on three days' rest since 2003
By Brian McTaggart
NEW YORK -- Joe Niekro, Mike Scott and Roy Oswalt have some company.
Lefty Dallas Keuchel joined the group of Astros pitchers to throw gems in clinching situations when he held the Yankees scoreless for six innings during a 3-0 win in the American League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Keuchel, starting on three days of rest, continued his dominance of the Yankees by allowing three hits and one walk. He's held them scoreless for 22 innings in three starts this year, allowing 12 hits and two walks while striking out 28. In four career starts against them, he's 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA.
Keuchel became the first starter to turn in a scoreless outing in a postseason game on three days' rest since Josh Beckett hurled a shutout (at the old Yankee Stadium) to win Game 6 of the 2003 World Series.
"It didn't take too much to get up for this game," Keuchel said. "Everybody's been battling 162 games plus to get up for this game, and I knew I wasn't the only one tired. So it's playoff baseball. Don't get any better."
Niekro pitched a gem to beat the Dodgers in a tiebreaker for the National League West title in 1980; Scott threw a no-hitter against the Giants to clinch the NL West in 1986; and Oswalt shut down the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2005 NLCS.
And here's Keuchel, a 20-game winner and AL Cy Young Award frontrunner getting the Astros into the AL Division Series. They will play the Royals in Kansas City for Game 1 on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX Sports 1.
"Incredible pitcher," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He showed a lot of resiliency. He wasn't at his best, but six innings scoreless at Yankee Stadium, in the biggest moment. If that's not his best, we can take anything he can give us."
After Carlos Beltran singled in the sixth inning to bring the go-ahead run to the plate, Hinch made an anything-but-routine trip to the mound to talk to Keuchel ahead of an at-bat against Alex Rodriguez.
"That was a tough one," Hinch said. "None of those are easy, and we could have gone a couple of different ways. So I went out there for a couple of reasons. One, I've done that a couple of times this year to check the heartbeat, look in his eyes a little bit. Obviously gather a little bit of information when I'm out there.
"And with Dallas, it's never easy to take the ball away from him. You always feel like he's under control. Even as the game went on, he was getting better and better. I thought early he was a little erratic. ... So I had a lot of faith and trust in Dallas. I'm sure other managers will tell you, take the ball out of your best guy's hand is one of the more challenging things in this job."