JUPITER, Fla. -- In his final start of the Grapefruit League season, Astros lefty Dallas Keuchel threw 79 pitches in five innings, allowing six hits, two earned runs and one walk while striking out five batters in Sunday's 6-2 win over the Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.
In four starts, Keuchel threw 15 1/3 innings and allowed 15 hits, four runs, three walks and struck out 15. He also threw in a simulated game last week.
"Spring is long in the sense of the monotony of everything, but the routine of starting pitchers is crucial and every day counts," Keuchel said. "I was able to take each day and figure out what my plan of attack was. At the end, this last start, I feel like I accomplished a lot and got myself ready for a good outing on Friday."
Keuchel boasted the four-seam fastball might be a weapon for him this year.
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"A lot of guys are willing to wait if they see a two-seam low and willing to take it," he said. "If I'm able to throw some four-seams low at the knees, that would be a heck of a pitch for me this year. I threw a few of those in the second and third inning, second time around, also was able to throw some breaking balls for strikes early and a few punchouts from secondary pitches. I'm pleased with the progress I've made and I'm ready to go and have some fun."
The next time Keuchel will take the mound will be Friday against the Rangers at Globe Life Park, where Keuchel made his big league debut in 2012. The Astros' Opening Day starter the previous three years, he'll pitch second behind Justin Verlander.
"That last week in between the last start and your first start of the regular season, I feels like it goes so slow just because there's a lot of things going on," Keuchel said. "The anticipation you've been building for 2 1/2 months is finally here. Opening up in Arlington will be really nice, a good rivalry the last five, 10 years. I'm sure their fans are ready for their season to start over there as well. I'll get to have some family down there."
Gurriel tests left hand
Astros infielder Yuli Gurriel took batting practice against a high-velocity pitching machine on Sunday afternoon on a back field at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach in what manager AJ Hinch said is the biggest test to date for his left hand.
Gurriel, who had the hook of the hamate bone in his left hand removed on Feb. 28, said afterwards he felt no pain.
"Today is the best day," Gurriel said.
Gurriel has made so much progress that he might not need a stint on the disabled list to start the season as previously believed. While the rest of the Astros will fly home to Houston on Sunday night, Gurriel will stay behind and rehab in Florida.
"We have a regimented program for him for the next week to see if we can get him into a Minor League, simulated game, live BPs, whatever we can to start getting him into game form," Hinch said.
Earlier in the day, Gurriel spoke of how pleased he was with his progress.
"I feel pretty good and I feel the doctors have said that my recuperation has gone better than expected," Gurriel said.
Gurriel will serve a five-game suspension to start the season for an insensitive gesture he made at Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish during the World Series. In his first full season in the big leagues last year, Gurriel hit .299 with 18 homers and 75 RBIs.
Gattis OK after getting hit on elbow
Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis left Sunday's game after he was struck on the left elbow by a breaking ball thrown by Marlins right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne. Gattis was taken for X-rays, which were negative, but he had a welt on his elbow.
"It was like in a perfectly bad spot," Gattis said. "I couldn't straighten it out, so you go make sure and get an X-ray. I think I might need a day [off]. They've got stuff they can do to help out and treat it."
The Astros return to Houston to face the Brewers in an exhibition game at Minute Maid Park at 7:10 p.m. CT on Monday. The Astros might have what's close to their Opening Day lineup on display when Lance McCullers takes the mound. Fans can catch all the action live on Gameday Audio.