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Keuchel scuffles as Astros fall short vs. Twins

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

MINNEAPOLIS -- Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel walked four batters for the second start in a row in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Twins at Target Field. The walks, combined with three infield hits -- including one on an overturned call at first base to start the game -- led to a frustrating night on the mound.

Keuchel, who needed 101 pitches to finish four innings, maintains he feels good and will take away some building blocks from his effort against the Twins. In three starts this year, he's allowed seven earned runs, nine walks and 17 hits in 15 innings (4.20 ERA).

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel walked four batters for the second start in a row in Tuesday's 4-1 loss to the Twins at Target Field. The walks, combined with three infield hits -- including one on an overturned call at first base to start the game -- led to a frustrating night on the mound.

Keuchel, who needed 101 pitches to finish four innings, maintains he feels good and will take away some building blocks from his effort against the Twins. In three starts this year, he's allowed seven earned runs, nine walks and 17 hits in 15 innings (4.20 ERA).

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"I was feeling good and attacking and went on the defensive a little bit and didn't make competitive pitches as much as I would like to early and gave up three runs," he said. "It's there. It's just a matter of making more competitive and quality pitches early."

Video: HOU@MIN: Keuchel strikes out Escobar swinging

Twins leadoff hitter Brian Dozier reached base five times (four walks), including a single and two walks against Keuchel. Joe Mauer drew a pair of walks against Keuchel as well.

"Teams giving me the opportunity to get ahead and I'm just behind on a few guys," he said. "Like I said, I've got to attack the zone and make more quality strikes and be more competitive early to get them on the defense. You saw with [Justin Verlander on Monday], he was on the attack for most of the night. When you get Major League hitters on the defense, your chances at success go skyrocketing up."

Video: HOU@MIN: Astros on offensive struggles in loss

Keuchel's fastball command still hasn't been there, but he said he threw some quality changeups Tuesday for the first time in his three starts.

"He's really fresh and he feels really good and maybe that is part of it," Astros manager AJ. Hinch said. "He's going to be fine, he's going to be in the strike zone a ton, he's going to dictate contact. They fouled a lot of balls off and they put a couple of swinging bunts in play. He tried to make a great play on one of them and ends up with an extra baserunner here and there. He'll have plenty of games [when] he's really efficient and dictating contact early. These last couple haven't been one of them."

The Astros were held without an extra-base hit for the third time in five games as Twins starter Jake Odorizzi limited them to one run and five hits in six innings. Jake Marisnick drove in Houston's only run with a two-out single in the second.

Video: HOU@MIN: Marisnick lines an RBI single to left field

"We did the same thing last year," said Jose Altuve, who went 2-for-4 at designated hitter. "We didn't start really good. We were battling to score runs until we woke up and won the World Series. We have a lot of talent here. We have guys playing hard. One thing we're doing right now is playing hard. Everybody is diving for balls, everybody's running hard to first base and that's all we can ask for."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: Odorizzi used double plays to his advantage, as he got Carlos Correa to ground into two double plays to end two scoring threats. The Astros had two runners on with one out in the first when Odorizzi got Correa to roll over into a 6-4-3 double play to escape the jam. And in the fifth, Odorizzi was helped by catcher Mitch Garver throwing out Alex Bregman stealing before Altuve reached on a bunt. But once again, Odorizzi induced a 6-4-3 double play from Correa to end the frame.

Video: HOU@MIN: Odorizzi induces inning-ending double play

Picked off: Bregman led off the fifth inning with a single, setting up the Astros nicely with Altuve and Correa due up. But Odorizzi picked off Bregman, which loomed even larger when Altuve dropped down a bunt single.

Video: HOU@MIN: Odorizzi picks off Bregman at first base

QUOTABLE
"I don't like it, to be honest with you. I'm ready to go to Houston and play in the dome." -- Altuve, on playing in cold weather in Minneapolis this series

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Altuve has a 12-game hitting streak against the Twins, hitting. 538 in that span.

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins won a challenge in the first that led to a run eventually scoring, as Dozier was initially ruled out at first on a slow roller hit to third base, but the call was overturned, giving Dozier a leadoff infield single. Dozier later scored on a sacrifice fly from Eduardo Escobar.

Video: HOU@MIN: Dozier hits infield single, call overturned

SPRINGER ROBS BUXTON
The Twins had a chance for a big inning in the eighth, but George Springer made a great diving grab in right to take away a hit from Byron Buxton. It was rated as a four-star catch by Statcast™, as he had to cover 58 feet in 3.7 seconds, giving it a catch percentage of 38 percent.

Video: HOU@MIN: Statcast™ tracks Springer's four-star catch

WHAT'S NEXT
Right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. makes his third start of the season in Wednesday's 12:10 p.m. CT series finale against the Twins at Target Field. McCullers, who hasn't faced the Twins since 2015, has allowed four earned runs and 11 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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