Keuchel earns first win in front of home fans

Keuchel earns first win in front of home fans

Keuchel earns first win in front of home fans
HOUSTON -- A week ago, 24-year-old Dallas Keuchel had never set foot in Minute Maid Park.

By the end of his brilliant complete game against the Indians on Saturday, a crowd of 34,241 was on its feet, cheering the Astros and Keuchel as they finished off an 8-1 victory over the Indians.

Not bad for Keuchel's second Major League start.

"I know I've been working on it, and I've been dreaming about it for a while and the reality is here, so I'm just trying to live it," Keuchel said.

He said Saturday's game was definitely special. Both his parents and his sister booked last-minute flights to Houston to watch Keuchel pitch.

The left-hander gave up six hits, striking out three and walking just one against an Indians team that entered Saturday's game with the second-most walks in the Majors. He threw 108 pitches, 70 for strikes.

It was the first complete game for the Astros since June 17, 2011, when Brett Myers went the distance. The last Astros rookie to throw a complete game was Taylor Buchholz on May 21, 2006.

The lone blemish on Keuchel's pitching line came on a solo homer by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fourth inning. Catcher Jason Castro said Keuchel's poise on the mound has surprised him.

"He didn't make too many mistakes over the plate where he could get hurt," Castro said. "It definitely makes my job easier knowing that he's confident in all of his pitches out there."

And this time, unlike the last three games, the Astros got the run support to take advantage of a strong performance from the starting pitcher.

For a while, it seemed like the team that had scored one total run in the last three games was making another appearance. Indians starter Jeanmar Gomez retired the first 12 Astros in order, and Cabrera's homer off Keuchel in the fourth gave the Indians a 1-0 advantage.

In the fifth, the Astros' offense finally came alive after 16 scoreless innings. Brian Bogusevic got the first hit, doubling to right-center field. Chris Johnson brought Bogusevic home with a double. After Castro flied out, J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer that gave the Astros a two-run lead. Martinez said Keuchel's pitching kept the Astros in the game.

"I know we weren't putting up any runs early for him, but he kept it close the whole time," Martinez said. "He gave us a chance to get some runs in for him."

On the next pitch after Martinez's home run, Jordan Schafer also went deep, giving the Astros back-to-back homers for the first time since April 6, when Carlos Lee and Bogusevic accomplished the feat.

Jose Altuve hit a solo homer in the eighth, his fifth home run of the season.

Scoring multiple runs -- let alone hitting back-to-back homers -- had become a distant memory for the Astros. But thanks to nine extra-base hits, three more than their previous season high, the Astros busted out for eight runs.

With Keuchel's stellar performance and the offense plating some runs, manager Brad Mills seemed relieved.

"If we could draw it up, I think that would be a pretty good way to draw it up right there," Mills said.

Indians manager Manny Acta said Keuchel's ability to change speeds caught his team off balance.

"He did an outstanding job and gave them an opportunity to get their offense in order," Acta said.

Keuchel's first Major League start came against a vaunted Rangers lineup on Sunday, but he fared well, giving up one earned run in five innings. He said that start really helped him prepare for Saturday's outing.

Castro, who caught Keuchel on Sunday, said Keuchel told him he was extremely comfortable during that start in Arlington.

"It showed last week and it just carried over and showed today," Castro said.

Castro, who also caught Keuchel in the Arizona Fall League, said Keuchel knows that he won't overpower hitters and needs to hit spots to have success.

"But his stuff is really good," Castro said. "He trusts it and he knows the kid of pitcher that he is. He knows to pitch to his strengths and he's really shown that so far."

It's clear that Keuchel's performance will have the Astros wondering about where he might fit into the rotation. The Astros originally called up Keuchel from Triple-A Oklahoma City to fill Bud Norris' slot in the rotation while Norris is on the disabled list.

"That's what you want guys to do. You want to make those decisions difficult," Mills said. "When a guy throws your first complete game of the year and throws two real good games, I think you've got to kind of wonder a little bit."

Clark Goble is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.