Keuchel disappointed he let down teammates

Ace allows three runs in one inning after coming on in relief in eighth

Keuchel disappointed he let down teammates

KANSAS CITY -- Dallas Keuchel wanted the ball one more time. It didn't matter that he was a 20-game winner, or that he started the All-Star Game or that he was 2-0 in two starts in the postseason. The Astros' ace felt he had something to prove.

Keuchel pitched in relief in the eighth inning for the Astros in Wednesday's Game 5 loss to the Royals in the American League Division Series, and he gave up a three-run homer to Kendrys Morales, which sealed Kansas City's 7-2 win. The blast did little to tarnish Keuchel's fine season, though it was hard to see that in the visiting clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium.

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Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 HOU 5, KC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 9 KC 5, HOU 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 HOU 4, KC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 12 KC 9, HOU 6
Gm 5 Oct. 14 KC 7, HOU 2

"Me personally, I feel like I let the team down a little bit," Keuchel said. "I came into that inning down two, and I felt we had a shot to come back, and the three-run homer really put a dagger in us, I feel like. It's not like I'm going to take that pitch back. It was down. He just put a good swing on it. He was better than me that at-bat."

Astros manager A.J. Hinch was coy about whether he was going to use Keuchel in relief, but trailing by two runs entering the eighth, he didn't want the Royals to expand their lead.

"We had to try everything possible to keep that at 4-2, and he was one pitch away from doing that," Hinch said. "And so [we wanted] to empty our tank with our best to try to give us a chance for a bloop and a blast, a walk and a double and another base hit, against one of the best bullpens in baseball. That's what the thought process was behind having Keuchel [pitch in relief]."

Houston's bullpen, which faltered down the stretch and squandered a four-run lead during the eighth inning of Game 4, was running on fumes. Hinch decided he was going to use starters Mike Fiers and Keuchel in relief. Fiers came in with two runners on in the fifth inning and gave up one run and one hit.

"We knew going into the game that I was going to use our starters," Hinch said. "I wanted to give the Royals a couple of different looks, guys they hadn't seen a ton of. We had used [left-hander Tony] Sipp and [right-hander Will] Harris in almost every game."

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve appreciated Keuchel taking the ball.

"I knew he was going to be ready for today," Altuve said. "He's a gamer. He's a stud. What can I say? He's the best pitcher in the league."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.