"When he started getting outs, continually in a row, I felt he was starting to connect on everything," manager A.J. Hinch said.
At one point Keuchel retired 14 of 15, with his cutter working against the Tigers' talented right-handed-hitting lineup. Keuchel allowed only five hits, all of them singles. He struck out four and walked only one, his 27th batter, in lowering his ERA to 2.18.
"I was thankful to get out of there like I did," Keuchel said. "I'll take it. That's a lineup that can do a lot of damage. I'll take some mis-pitches and some swings in the first to kind of get me going."
In the sixth inning, Keuchel struck out Miguel Cabrera on a slider to end a 10-pitch at-bat.
"They're all important with that lineup. That's 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."
After allowing singles to Ian Kinsler and Cabrera in the first inning, Keuchel settled in. He commanded the strike zone, pretty much controlling the contact. In the first three innings, Keuchel was finding his way, and he found his groove in the middle innings.
During his 17-0 streak at Minute Maid Park (20 games and 145 1/3 innings), Keuchel has an ERA of 1.36, 151 strikeouts and 19 quality starts.
"He loves this ballpark and pitches very well here," Hinch said. "The confidence that he has, there is something about pitching here that he responds to."
Keuchel wasn't heavily taxed, throwing 108 pitches (72 for strikes) over eight innings.
"There's going to be a time this year where he's going to be up to 120 pitches," Hinch said. "April 15 is not that day. He gave us everything he could for as long as he could."