Dallas Keuchel after his impressive start vs. Blue Jays
Dallas Keuchel liked the idea of opposing Mark Buehrle on Sunday. The Toronto starter is a fast worker who wastes little time between pitches. Keuchel doesn’t pitch quite as fast as his opponent, but he likes a good pace.
“I knew I had Buehrle opposing me and he tends to be pretty fast,” said Keuchel. “My main goal was not to look up at the clock because I try to go as fast as possible and give our team a chance to hit.
“But he was matching me pitch for pitch and it was actually pretty fun today.”
Keuchel, who did not allow a run in his seven innings, may have barely out-pitched Buehrle, but Buehrle and the Blue Jays got the win. Toronto scored both its runs in the top of the ninth inning off Houston relievers to beat the Astros 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
The fast pace helped both pitchers. Keuchel allowed only four hits. In eight innings, the only run Buehrle allowed was on a double play in the second inning. The left-handed Buehrle allowed seven hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
“The last thing I want to do is have a long inning,” said Keuchel, who lowered his ERA from 5.11 to 4.82. “I’m a fast-pace worker. It’s nice to see another fast-pace worker in Buehrle. I just went with it.”
Sunday’s game took two hours, 50 minutes and would have been about 25 minutes less if the Blue Jays hadn’t scored two runs in the ninth off Chia-Jen Lo (0-2), the first of three Houston relievers in the ninth inning.
“Buehrle tends to have fast games,” said Keuchel. “I thought it was going to be more up-tempo than it usually is. It wasn’t anything different today.”
Keuchel allowed only four hits (all singles) in seven scoreless innings and never seriously got into trouble.
“It was amazing,” said Astros catcher Cody Clark, who was making his first start in the major leagues. “We were on the same page. He did a really great job of keeping them off balanced and keeping the ball down and making soft contact.”
The left-handed Keuchel was superb in getting ground ball outs and weakly-hit fly balls. Keuchel walked three and had only two strikeouts, but he struck out his final batter in a key situation. For the final out of the seventh inning, Keuchel struck out Ryan Goins looking with the tying run, J.P. Arencibia, on second base.
“I felt comfortable throwing a bunch of sliders to him,” said Keuchel. “I felt like he wanted to pull the ball. Until 3-2 (count) I wasn’t going to throw a strike. He thought another slider was coming because I had six in a row.
“Then I surprised him with a two-seam (fastball) back door and it worked in my favor.”
Keuchel got a no-decision on Sunday, leaving with Houston leading 1-0. He has left five of his last seven starts either winning or tied, but has only one win in that period. Keuchel threw 105 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“Dallas was tremendous,” said Astros manager Bo Porter. “In and out, front to back, changing speeds. He made quality pitch after quality pitch.”