Keuchel breezes through tough Nats lineup

Keuchel breezes through tough Nats lineup

VIERA, Fla. -- In his second start of the spring, lefty ace Dallas Keuchel threw a near-perfect three innings in Monday afternoon's 1-1 tie with the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium.

Keuchel retired the first eight batters he faced before yielding a single to Nationals shortstop Brendan Ryan. Following a wild pitch, Kuechel completed his outing with his fourth strikeout of the game. He threw 43 pitches, 30 for strikes.

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The two-time Gold Glove winner flashed some leather as well. With one out in the second inning, Keuchel speared a one-hop comebacker off the bat of Daniel Murphy. Keuchel flipped to first to retire the Nationals' second baseman.

"Some of [our] guys were joking with me and pointing to the gold patch," Kuechel said referring to the designation on his uniform. "But in Spring Training, I'm no different than anybody else. The first couple [of balls hit back to the mound] seem like they're coming 100 mph at me.

"I was lucky enough to stab at it and get it in my mitt. Like anything, that [reaction] comes with time. Luckily I got that first one out of the way, and hopefully make a few good plays like that in the future."

It was a solid follow-up to Keuchel's spring debut. The defending American League Cy Young Award winner opened Spring Training with two scoreless innings vs. the Braves last Wednesday.

The 28-year-old is coming off a 20-8 season with a 2.48 ERA. It was a season that included a 15-0 record at Minute Maid Park, the most wins by an undefeated pitcher in home starts in Major League history.

Glenn Sattell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.