Homers spoil Keuchel's Game 1 start in WS

Astros left-hander allows dingers to Taylor and Turner

October 25th, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- It was a night of firsts for , so it was ironic that the first World Series pitch of his career was one he immediately wanted back.

Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV marked plenty of firsts for Keuchel, who had never pitched at Dodger Stadium, faced the Dodgers and, of course, was making his World Series debut.

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So while one can't blame the 29-year-old if he felt some nerves heading into the opener, Keuchel seemed to have himself under control for most of the night as he engaged in a classic pitchers' duel with on baseball's biggest stage.

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Keuchel allowed three runs on six hits and one walk, striking out three over 6 2/3 innings of a 3-1 loss. Two of his 84 pitches were the difference-makers -- Chris Taylor's leadoff home run in the first inning and 's two-run shot in the sixth.

"It was a good atmosphere; it was as fun as I had imagined," Keuchel said. "Taylor hit a first-pitch four-seamer out of the yard, kind of hit us in the jaw. We recovered nicely. I knew we would scratch a run, maybe two, off of Kershaw. But he was as good as advertised. It was one pitch away from being 1-1 going into the seventh.

"We're trying to win one of two here, so hopefully we'll come out tomorrow and get a win."

The two-homer night against Keuchel was an unusual occurrence, as the southpaw allowed only 15 homers in 145 2/3 innings during the regular season and hadn't given up more than one in a game since May 5 in Anaheim.

Taylor's leadoff homer came on Keuchel's first pitch of the night, welcoming him to Los Angeles with a blast projected at 447 feet by Statcast™. It was the fourth Game 1 leadoff home run in World Series history, and it had the Dodger Stadium crowd shaking the historic building.

"We knew he liked to get ahead early," Taylor said. "He does a really good job of picking at the corners and throws a lot of chase pitches. But I just wanted to go up there and be aggressive and try to jump on that first-pitch strike."

The homer didn't rattle Keuchel, who retired the next three Dodgers he faced.

"This is their house and they play well here, so I expected something to happen. I didn't expect that to happen," Keuchel said. "I expected myself to get the job done. I regrouped pretty quickly. That was the first pitch of the first inning, so there was a lot of game left."

"That's just who he is," Astros catcher said. "He's not going to let that faze him."

opened the second with a single, but Keuchel quickly erased him with a 5-6-3 double play off the bat of .

That would quickly become a trend for the 2015 American League Cy Young winner, who got Taylor to line into a double play in the third then induced a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of in the fifth after had taken Kershaw deep an inning earlier to knot the game at 1-1.

"Keuchel was really good tonight," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He was just a pitch or two less than Kershaw. He wasn't as fancy with the punchouts. But take nothing away from these guys, it was a well-pitched game on both sides."

Keuchel appeared to be on his way to another quick inning when he opened the sixth with a pair of ground-ball outs. Taylor worked a five-pitch walk, then Turner hit a two-run homer to left-center, a high fly ball that may have been aided by the extremely warm conditions that gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Turner's home run had an exit velocity of 96 mph and a 37-degree launch angle, a ball that has gone out of the park approximately once out of every 10 times since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015.

"I wanted to throw it up and in, within the strike zone. It was a good pitch," Keuchel said of the cut fastball he threw Turner. "The launch angle was really high and it wasn't hit extremely hard by any means, but it just got out. It's a tough one."

Keuchel, whose pitch count was never an issue all night, returned for the seventh and got two ground-ball outs to start the frame. But a two-out single by Seager brought Hinch out of the dugout, ending Keuchel's World Series debut.

"Runs come at a premium here," Keuchel said. "Turner got the premium runs when they needed it and Kershaw has won multiple Cy Young Awards for a reason. I thought maybe we could scratch one more run off of him before the two-run homer, but we didn't get the job done.

"We're obviously going to have to get the job done tomorrow, hopefully get a split and go back to Houston."