Two bearded pitchers squared off on Saturday, Dallas Keuchel and Matt Shoemaker. It was battle of the facial follicles. Titanic title matchup of face ticklers. When you play the game of bearded pitchers, you win or you lose. There is no middle ground. There can only be one.
I can go on with the references but we have a recap to finish...
The Astros jumped out to an early lead after Jose Altuve blasted a home run in the first inning. It could have been a 2-0 after Jake Marisnick lead off the game with a single but he was caught attempting to steal second.
The Angels responding quickly with two runs of their own in first, matching the highest total of runs Dallas Keuchel in an entire start this season. Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout hit back-to-back singles, and David Freese walked to load the bases. Erick Aybar slapped a single to center plating two. Keuchel walked Johnny Giavotella, before getting out of the jam with a ground ball double play from former Astros farm hand Carlos Perez.
Chris Carter put the Astros back into the lead with a two-run blast in the second. Houston padded it's lead in the third with three more runs. Marisnick lead off the inning with a double, and Altuve pushed him to third on fielder's choice. Astros third baseman Luis Valbuena drove home Marisnick with a single to right. Colby Rasmus rewarded Valbuena's clutch RBI with walk around the rest of the bases as Rasmus deposited a pitch in the right field bleachers. The Astros now lead 6-2 after 2 1/2 innings.
Shoemaker was pulled after three innings. The only honorable thing to do at this point is to shave his beard.
The Angels weren't done. The Halos did something no other team has done thus far in 2015, score a third run off Dallas Keuchel. Carlos Perez doubled home Johnny Giavotella to bring the score to 6-3.
Mike Trout followed that by doing Mike Trout things in the fourth with a solo home run to dead center.
Keuchel left in the seventh inning following a Mike Trout single. The beard gave up four runs on eight hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking two.
Pat Neshek ended the seventh with a Albert Pujols pop out, and followed that with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Chad Qualls came in to close with Luke Gregerson on family leave. Qualls retired the first two batters he faced with relative ease. Collin Cowgill beat out a soft dribbler to Valbuena, opening the opportunity for the Angels. Kole Calhoun doubled down the left field line to bring the Angels within one.
In another chapter of bizarre theater, the Astros went the opposite route of the 2005 NLCS. Houston intentionally walked Mike Trout to get to Albert Pujols. Who would have ever guessed that day would have come? Pujols didn't hit a memory shattering home run this time, he grounded in to a force at second.
The Astros are the first team in the American League to collect 20 wins, and they've tied the best start to a season in team history through 31 games.