Anytime Dallas Keuchel takes the mound, the immediate thought is “easy win.” Well, tonight was far from that.
Squaring up against Tanner Roark and the Washington Nationals, The Houston Astros were put on the back foot when Dallas Keuchel surrendered four runs through his first two innings. He only made it 5.0 innings, and gave up four runs and four walks. It just wasn’t the Keuchel we’re used to seeing.
Keuchel did settle down, but he had already dug too deep a hole, even for the red-hot Astros.
The Astros had plenty of hits, but they kept missing golden opportunities to pull themselves back into the game. The main opportunity came in the top of the 4th, fresh off the Nationals establishing a commanding early lead. Jose Altuve, George Springer and Jon Singleton led off the inning with three straight singles to load the bases. But following a strikeout by Jason Castro, an infield single by Matt Dominguez, a pop out by Jonathan Villar and another strikeout by Robbie Grossman, the Astros could only squeeze out one run.
Darin Downs would replace Keuchel in the 6th, and if you were shocked to see Keuchel so grossly off his game, you had to be equally shocked to see the bullpen stud Downs likewise off his game, as he gave up two runs as well.
But the Astros continued to fight. In the top of the 8th, the offensively-bewildered Castro got started with a single and Dominguez followed with a double to put runners on second and third with no one out.
The illusive clutch hit came immediately, as Villar laced the first pitch he saw to center to drive in one.
Unfortunately, the all-or-nothing Chris Carter was called on to pinch hit, and he gave us the nothing of a strikeout, leaving runners on the corners. Alex Presley was then called upon and in the spirit of the game, he took three whiffs and resumed his place on the bench.
In steps Dexter Fowler, who is about as clutch as the Astros have, and he did exactly what you’d expect, strapping on his clutch pants and dinking a single into center, beyond the diving grasp of Denard Span. 6-3 looked a whole lot better than 6-1.
Then came Altuve, who is permanently wearing his clutch pants. In an equally clutch fashion, he plastered a ball over Ryan Zimmerman‘s head in left and drove in two, bringing the Astros within one.
Springer would not be able to continue the rally, as he hit a fairly stout line drive to center for the out. It would come down to the 9th.
I for one, am incredibly confused by George Springer. He has one of three games. He either goes 0-4 with at least 3 strikeouts, 1-4 with a home run and three strikeouts or 3-4 with no home runs and no strikeouts. A balance between the three would be great, preferably neglecting the first option.
On to the 9th inning. Singleton hit one that, for a split second, looked to be a home run, but it was nothing more than a fly out. Castro followed with a walk, but the Astros followed with a Dominguez fielder’s choice ground out and a warning-track fly by Villar, ending what they had made to be a very good game.
The Astros pumped out 14 hits and lost. That’s a hard stat to swallow, but at least the offense perked up and made this a game.
Game MVP: Jose Altuve
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