Keuchel continues hot start by dominating Angels
Left-hander tosses six scoreless innings for second win of 2015
HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel is on some kind of roll to start the season. Keuchel threw six scoreless innings Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, holding the Angels to two hits and three walks while striking out seven batters in the Astros' 4-0 win. He's allowed two earned runs in 20 innings to lower his ERA to 0.90 through three starts.
"I felt good," he said. "That's a talented lineup over there, and I was lucky enough to get out of six innings."
Keuchel (2-0) has thrown 10 consecutive quality starts since last Aug. 15, going 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA in that span. That marks the longest active quality start streak in the Majors, just ahead of James Shields, who has nine in a row. It's the longest such run by an Astros pitcher since Wandy Rodriguez threw 13 in a row in 2010.
Keuchel tossed seven scoreless innings on Opening Day against the Indians, and carried a shutout into the seventh Sunday in Arlington before giving up a pair of runs.
"There's a few pitches I'd like to have back, but overall my cutter was actually pretty good tonight," he said. "It hasn't been there the last two starts."
Keuchel has been relying on his two-seam fastball and changeup, so an effective cutter was a bonus. He was also elevating his four-seam fastball up and in Saturday, which made him especially tough.
"You need to mix up your locations," he said. "You can't really go back to back in the same location because they'll punish you. I was just watching some of the video from [Friday] night, and I thought if we could hit some spots we'd put ourselves in a good position."
It didn't hurt that former Angels catcher Hank Conger was calling pitches.
"I really followed him," Keuchel said. "In the pregame meetings, I said, 'You know these guys better than I do. I've faced these guys five, six times the last couple of years, so I'm going to follow you' and you go out and throw a shutout."
Astros manager A.J. Hinch didn't think Keuchel had great command, but commended him for being able to get key outs.
"He made pitches when he needed to," he said. "He got a couple of uncharacteristic walks. You walk a fine line of expecting perfection out of him by how he goes about it and swings and misses that he gets. No one will ever complain about six zeroes in an outing from Dallas Keuchel. He had to work for it and he got to a pretty high pitch count. You're not used to seeing him over 100 pitches through six innings."
But the Astros are used to seeing him win.