Keuchel feels strong, but command lacking

Astros ace's slide continues despite velocity's return to normal level

May 13th, 2016

BOSTON -- Perhaps what's most frustrating to Astros ace Dallas Keuchel is how good he feels physically. Even manager A.J. Hinch said the left-hander's velocity, which had been down a tad, is starting to creep back up and the ball continues to come out of his hand well.

All of that, though, doesn't mean much if you can't get outs consistently, and the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner's rough start to the season continued on Thursday night at Fenway Park, where he allowed eight runs and 10 hits over six innings in an 11-1 loss to the red-hot Red Sox.

"They're extremely hot, but I felt really good," Keuchel said. "Early on, I was getting a lot of ground balls, and it seemed like they were expecting some movement but started laying off on a few pitches. It seems like right now, the guys I put on base score. We can't have that. Guys are looking to me to do the right thing and make pitches. I've been feeling better."

Five of the runs the Red Sox scored came on two swings of the bat against offspeed pitches -- a two-run homer by Xander Bogaerts in the first inning and a three-run homer by Mookie Betts in the sixth that all but sealed the Astros' fate. Keuchel was one run shy of his career high of nine runs allowed in a start, which came last September against the Rangers in Arlington.

"Their offense is clicking right now, specifically, and when Dallas gave them any pitch to hit, whether they fought off a couple of pitches or had a couple of infield hits, whether they hit the ball hard off the Monster, we couldn't stop them from scoring most innings," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

Keuchel is 0-4 with a 7.98 ERA in his last five starts, having allowed 44 hits and 11 walks in 29 1/3 innings. He says it's a matter of command.

"I think I try to be too perfect on a lot of pitches, and that's not the way you go about it," Keuchel said. "You work on the plate until you work off and expand, and sometimes I try to be too fine. That works against me a lot more than it helps me. I'll get back to the drawing board, but I've been feeling good, man. It's going to be there, and when it is, we'll take off."

Dustin Pedroia reach on an infield hit with one out in the first, and Bogaerts followed by hitting a low pitch over the left-field wall for a two-run homer. After a pair of one-out singles in the sixth, Betts went deep to center to pushed Boston's lead to 8-1.

"The one to Betts was down," Keuchel said. "It was middle of the plate, but it was down in the strike zone. The way his swing path goes, I thought it was a pretty good pitch, but obviously not in that situation.

"Bogaerts has been hot. You've got to tip your cap. It's not like I'm not making pitches, because clearly I am."