HOUSTON -- Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel clocked seven stellar innings in Houston's 2-1 win in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World on Friday night at Minute Maid Park, holding the Yankees to just four hits in a scoreless outing. Houston leads the series, 1-0.
Keuchel's admirable effort included 10 strikeouts, his most in more than two years, and featured eight ground-ball outs. He threw 109 pitches (67 strikes), the Yankees flailing at many of them.
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"I felt pretty good early and they had a good game plan," Keuchel said in a postgame interview on FS1. "It was similar to the Red Sox where they were giving me the outer half and daring me to throw strikes. I kind of faltered in the 4th and 5th, but I was lucky to get it back. A few cutters that were misfired and a little high. I was lucky enough to get it back and continue."
Keuchel issued just one walk, going to Aaron Judge with one out in the first, and didn't allow a baserunner past second base.
"He's just special," shortstop Carlos Correa said. "He's special to watch. I love playing behind him. You've got to be ready for every single pitch knowing at some point you're going to get a ground ball. He's been consistent all year. That's what a Cy Young Award winner does."
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Staked to a 2-0 lead in the fourth, Keuchel outdid Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka, who yearned for run support in a six-inning showing.
"We knew coming in they were going to be hot," Keuchel said. "We were fortunate enough to make some pitches, get some early outs and get the crowd into it, get them involved. They're a good team for a reason. We played them twice in the regular season, once at our place and once at theirs, and they have been all good games. This is what you want in your championship series, and we hope to get to four wins before they do."
Not since Sept. 27, 2015, had Keuchel compiled as many as 10 strikeouts -- most by an Astros starter in the postseason since Nolan Ryan in the 1986 National League Championship Series.
The dominant display was all too familiar for the Yankees, who succumbed to a Keuchel gem at Yankee Stadium in the 2015 AL Wild Card Game won by the Astros. Keuchel tossed six scoreless innings, fanning seven. He's the first pitcher to record two scoreless starts with at least seven strikeouts against the Yanks in the postseason.
"I don't know [what it is about the Yankees]," Keuchel said. "That's a good question. As I said before, I think it's a good combo of command and pitchability. When I'm behind in the count, I feel just as good as I do when it's 0-2. I think that's one of the biggest keys for me. If I get down 2-0, I'm still going to make my pitches, execute and hope for the best."
"He was not giving in," Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius said. "He pitches to the corner, and if he gets the call, he'll probably go back there. He probably stayed off the heart of the plate."