Game 17: Solid day from Astros pitchers
The facts: The Astros got superb pitching from starter Dallas Keuchel, reliever Darin Downs and Mark Appel, who pitched in relief, and then blew the game and lost, 3-2, when the Yankees scored three in the ninth (two earned) against Will Harris (boxscore).
Analysis: In his first start since being named Opening Day starter, Keuchel cruised through 4 1/3 scoreless innings, throwing 41 of his 58 pitches for strikes. He allowed a pair of runners in the first, but got Brian McCann to ground out to end the inning, and he coaxed Chris Young into an inning-ending double play in the fourth.
“I just felt like I had a few mechanical issues last start and I was all over the place, but today I was just focused on making as many quality pitches as I could,” Keuchel said. “I think I said I took a step back last start, but I think I took two steps forward this one and was really able to establish the fastball early. I was making those guys conscious inside with the two-seam and then kind of set up some breaking balls and change-ups away.”
Downs allowed a hit, but quickly got a double play to get out of the inning. Appel looked polished by allowing one hit in three scoreless innings.
The Astros were held to five hits, including a two-run blast by Chris Carter in the first inning off Michael Pineda. The Astros nearly hit for the cycle in the first with George Springer hitting a triple and Matt Dominguez stroking a single to join Carter’s first homer of the spring.
“He can leave any area of the ballpark,” Hinch said of Carter, who was second in the AL with 37 homers last year. “He’s been working on staying towards the middle and hitting the ball back where it’s pitched. It’s a big man that can hit it out to a big area.”
Player of the game: Dallas Keuchel.
Notable: Yankees pitchers struck out 14 batters.
“You want to play quality baseball, which is key, heading into the season. To me, handling the ball cleanly and playing clean baseball is the No. 1 priorty,” — Astros manager A.J. Hinch when asked about having a winning record in the spring.
Up next: Veteran Roberto Hernandez, who gave up three earned runs and four hits in three innings Tuesday, will continue his audition for the fifth spot in the rotation when he starts Sunday’s game against the Pirates at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee. Dan Straily, who walked four and allowed three runs in two innings Tuesday, will also pitch against Pittsburgh while he also competes for a spot in the rotation. The game will be televised on MLB Network and ROOT Sports.
Injury report: LF/DH Evan Gattis (right wrist discomfort) is playing in Minor League games. … LHP Brett Oberholtzer (mild left lat strain) is able to throw in the bullpen and could return to game action soon. … RHP Brad Peacock (hip surgery) will pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.
Pictures of the day can be found at my Instagram page: https://instagram.com/brianmctaggartmlb/
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