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After going 0-3 with a 9.50 ERA and a .410 batting average against in his previous three starts in Arlington, Keuchel struck out seven batters and allowed only three hits to improve to 9-0 this year. Keuchel said he’s had a lot of unlucky breaks in Arlington.
“I could have the best record against a team or the worst record, and I still think I’m going to go out and do my job correctly,” he said. “Any time that the opposition takes out lefties because you’re pitching, it means you’re doing something right, and I just continue to try to do my job correctly and help the team win every fifth day.”
In fact, the Astros haven’t had much success on the whole in Arlington, something that’s been well documented. Even after winning Friday’s series opener, they’re still 25-50 all-time on the road against the Rangers. Coming into this season, the Rangers had won 32 of the previous 42 in Arlington.
“But 2017 is a whole new year,” Keuchel said. “It just seems like we’ve turned a corner. I’m sure that they’re feeling like we were the past couple years, searching for answers, searching for anything. It’s not a good feeling, but a lot of that was bound to turn around, and we’ve been playing some really good ball, and we’re going to look to build on it.”
In Keuchel’s second start since missing a turn in the rotation with a pinched nerve in his neck, Astros manager A.J. Hinch pulled his ace after only 89 pitches. The Astros had a fresh bullpen and Keuchel had to wait out a two-hour rain delay at the start of the game.
“I hadn’t forgotten that he’s just coming off an 80-plus-pitch outing,” Hinch said. “So, I’ll take a three-run lead and our bullpen any day.”
Keuchel showed pinpoint control on Friday, with a steady diet of two-seam fastballs down in the zone. The Rangers loaded the bases after two outs in the sixth, but Keuchel escaped and turned it over to the bullpen.
“He’s 9-0 for a reason,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He’s got good stuff, he’s won a Cy Young for a reason. He’s got pretty dynamic stuff, and you’ve got to get to him when you have the opportunity.”
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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