As ace deals, makes plays, Astros follow his example in field
By Richard Dean
Special to MLB.com |
HOUSTON -- Before the Royals rallied for six runs in the top of the eighth inning in the Astros' 7-3 loss on Saturday, the spotlight was on Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who was having another outstanding pitching -- and fielding -- performance.
Keuchel exited after seven innings with the Astros ahead, 2-1. Aside from allowing a leadoff home run to Cheslor Cuthbert in the fifth and committing a two-base throwing error immediately after, Keuchel was in top form, allowing only two hits.
"I was riding the high off the last start into this start," Keuchel said. "It's just unfortunate the turn of events there at the end. I knew if I was healthy, I would put up results. I expect no less."
Keuchel became only the fourth pitcher in MLB history to pitch at least seven innings and allow two hits or fewer in each of his first two games of a season, joining Nolan Ryan (1979), Tom Phoebus (1970) and Lon Warneke (1934).
"He did what Dallas does," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He fielded his position well. He had that one error. He made pitches when he needed to. He had one blemish. Overall, a nice job."
Keuchel made an error for the first time since Sept. 11, 2015, when he threw wildly to first base, allowing Paulo Orlando to reach second. Orlando advanced to third on a sacrifice by Alcides Escobar. With the infield in, Christian Colon hit a hard one-hopper, but Keuchel cut it off, held the runner at third and threw Colon out. Then, Keuchel got Drew Butera to ground out to end the inning and preserve a 2-1 lead.
"It's like he's moving before we even hit the ball," Royals left fielder Alex Gordon said. "It's no secret why he wins Gold Gloves."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost: "It was unbelievable the plays he made. The one he missed, if he hadn't slipped, he would have made that one."
Keuchel wasn't the only one on his team making superb plays. Shortstop Carlos Correa made a nice backhanded play to retire Gordon in the sixth. Third baseman Alex Bregman robbed Orlando of a hit by snaring a liner to his left to end the seventh.
"We're not perfect on defense, but we're pretty good," Hinch said. "We're going to make some dynamic plays. Correa made a nice play to his right."
Hinch said he didn't keep Keuchel, who threw 93 pitches, in for the eighth because it is early in the season. Keuchel threw a lot during the spring and Luke Gregerson, who was charged with all six runs in the eighth, was pitching on a day of rest.
"I put it in attack mode and was working off that," Keuchel said.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.