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Early offense, masterful Keuchel fell Angels

There were photos of Keuchel's exasperation at Mike Trout reaching in the ninth available, and one of him looking grim while coming off the mound. But I'm not using those.

Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez celebrate the win
Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez celebrate the win
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Because frustration should not be our emotion right now. Keuchel didn't complete is second straight shutout this evening. But that doesn't matter. It feels like it matters, but it really doesn't. Even those two runs that will forever taint his ERA don't really matter (though they hurt).

No friends. What matters is that, for another night, the Astros came out swinging and scored five runs in the first third of the game (they're now 16-3 when scoring at least five runs, by the way). What matters is that Dallas Keuchel looked like Tom Glavine on the mound again. What matters is that the bullpen didn't lose the lead that he eventually handed over to them.

And, above and beyond, forever and always, what matters is that the Houston Astros had at least one more run on the board than the other guys did when the final out of the ninth inning was recorded.

Jose Altuve, Jason Castro and Matt Dominguez all checked in with multi-hit performances, George Springer and Dexter Fowler both had a hit and a walk apiece, and Chris Carter even chimed in with a timely RBI knock. For what I would claim was the seventh time in the last 11 games, the Astros offense looked like a real Major League offense. Altuve is hitting over .300; Dominguez has an OPS over .800 for the month, and Fowler's is over .900. You may now insert your "It's Happening" GIFs in the comments section below.

For a game that had gone so smoothly for eight straight innings, the ninth left much that will be discussed. Chief among these topics will be Bo Porter's handling of Keuchel in that ninth inning. Some will rail against the pitch count, and others will insist he should have been left alone to finish the game.

These situations are among the murkiest in modern baseball; we all crave the complete game, the ace rising to the challenge, the one man standing alone atop the hill at the end of battle. The domination of a starting pitcher often makes for the best baseball, and a certain bitterness is left when we feel robbed of it (and as is plain from watching Keuchel's reaction and body language, all the more for the pitcher himself).

On the one hand, he was nearing 130 pitches. Even those who scoff at the near-hysteria over the 100 pitch milestone will admit that 125-130 pitches is a heavy workload. If Keuchel had been left in even longer and indeed completed his shutout, but was diagnosed with any manner of arm injury in the next few days, surely the majority of fans would be screaming for Porter's head.

On the other hand, few of Keuchel's innings were even close to what you could call stressful or taxing, and we know now that those types of innings are what really build up fatigue and can lead to arm injuries the quickest. Given how much of the game he had simply cruised through (and coming off one similar), it could be argued that he could handle it.

What do you think about the decision? I, for one, am fine with the pull late, though I wanted to see the complete game. My final thought, though, was that perhaps this is a good thing. It stings now, but a little adversity when things are going so smoothly can be the reminder that a young club needs to stay focused.

And, who knows, maybe this will get some play nationally and a certain AL manager, who will be filling out a roster of pitchers in a month or two, will catch wind of this and think to himself that "The Kid" Dallas Keuchel is just the type if kid he wants on his team when trying to win an All-Star game.