Aah, Sunday afternoon baseball. It's 72 degrees in Houston, the windows are open, hot wings sit on my plate, and there's a frosty adult beverage in my hand. Life is good. What could make it better? How about Dallas Keuchel and his Astros dominating Albert Pujols' Los Angeles California Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California?
Keuchel (11-9, 3.00 ERA) faced off against Hector Santiago (5-8, 3.55), who struggled to find the strike zone for the two innings that it took him to reach 82 pitches. The Astros' offense made him pay, reaching base on 5 hits and 5 walks during the first two frames. The Angels ended up using a total of seven pitchers, and when the dust and bugs settled, the Astros had tallied twelve hits and seven walks, scoring six runs in the process.
Keuchel dominated over seven innings, and though "dominated" has become a word so over-used that it has lost its drama, that nonetheless is what he did. His perfect game bid was broken up by Chris Iannetta with a walk in the 6th inning and he lost the no-hitter on a single by Mike Trout in the 7th. But after seven, Keuchel had still only faced the minimum number of batters thanks to a couple of double plays.
By the third inning, it became clear that Keuchel had had a chat with 3rd-baseman Matt Dominguez prior to the game. It must have went something like this:
Keuchel: "Hey Matty, I'm gonna make 'em hit 'em all to you, ok?"
Dominguez certainly got an opportunity to flash his defensive chops in this one, as five of Keuchel's fifteen ground ball outs went his way.
Keuchel's only run came on a David Freese single to score Gordon Beckham in the 8th. At that point, after 114 pitches, Jose Veras came in to relieve him, followed by Tony Sipp. The two relievers allowed only one walk between them (Sipp) and struck out three en route to securing the victory.
Keuchel wasn't the only story of the day. Much can be said about the Astros' offense. One might mention two hits each by Robbie Grossman, Jose Altuve (#205 and #206!), Dexter Fowler, and Gregorio Petit, or the three-hit, one-walk performance by Jake Marisnick. One might mention the eight men left on base by Jesus Guzman. Or Dominguez' hard-luck 0-4 (1 BB) line, despite making hard contact the entire game. One could even talk about Chris Carter's 12-game hitting streak, during which he's hitting .333/.455/.556 with 3 stolen bases.
But the story is really Petit, who crushed the 2nd home run of his major league career in the second inning off Santiago. And again, he indeed "crushed" it, as it was a 3-run-scoring no-doubter that cleared the fence by several rows. Not good enough for you? Petit later followed it up with a warning-track double to left that he eventually scored on. Both of Petit's hits came with two outs. He is now hitting .275 on the season.
- The win snaps the 1st-place Angels' 10-game winning streak.
- Keuchel has this weird cut-out rectangle thing going on in the middle of his beard, just above his chin. Don't know what that's all about, but can't say I've seen that aesthetic before.
- Keuchel has now surpassed his career high in innings pitched for a season.
- Over the past calendar month, the Astros are 3-2 versus the Angels, 3-3 vs the A's, 2-1 vs. the M's, and 3-1 vs the Rangers. It's perhaps baseball's most competitive and strong division, and the Astros are 11-7 against them during the last 30 days.
- Yoslan Herrera - that's an 80-grade name
- But it's not as good as Vinnie Pestano, who I imagine talks like Joe Pesci
- Tony Sipp has a 3.35 ERA, a 2.77 FIP, and a 2.86 xFIP. He's struck out a third of the batters he's faced and walked only 9%. This is the guy who was released by the 68-79 San Diego Padres. Why? Looking at his career history, it's kind of hard to fathom. The Astros should lock him up contractually.
- The Astros now have 2 starting pitchers with ERA's at 3.00 or under (Keuchel and Collin McHugh). Last time that happened? 2005, when Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, and Roger Clemens all had ERA's under 3.00.