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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Keuchel Cruises

by Jesse Pantuosco
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

The Houston Astros aren’t waiting for 2016. They’re ready to win now.

 

We’re way past fluke. The Astros are sitting atop the American League and they have the weapons to stay there. Houston has speed, power, defense, pitching—but do they have an ace?

 

No team can win a World Series without one. Madison Bumgarner did the Giants’ heavy lifting last postseason. The year before that, it was Jon Lester leading the way for Boston.

 

That’s what the Astros have Dallas Keuchel for. The 27-year-old proved why he’s one of the best young pitchers in baseball Saturday in a nine-inning masterpiece at Minute Maid Park.

 

Keuchel tossed his second complete game in a row, fanning a career-high 11 hitters in a 3-0 win over the White Sox. The left-hander improved to 7-1 while lowering his ERA to a league-best 1.76. He’s the first Astro to record a shutout with ten or more strikeouts since Wandy Rodriguez in 2009. Saturday was Keuchel’s first shutout since May 13, 2014 against Texas.

 

Evan Gattis and Chris Carter sparked the offense with back-to-back homers in the eighth inning. Houston hadn’t gone back-to-back since May 2 when Jose Altuve and Luis Valbuena went deep against Seattle. At 31-19, the Astros are off to their best 50-game start in team history.

 

Chicago starter Jose Quintana hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates. Saturday was the 16th time in 97 career starts the White Sox have failed to score for him.

 

After the game, the Astros kept the stadium open so fans could wait out the thunderstorm. The fans may have gotten wet, but they didn’t leave empty-handed. Saturday was George Springer Jersey Night at the ballpark.

 

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Dodgers End Scoreless Streak in Style

 

The Dodgers’ offense hit rock bottom Saturday, but they didn’t stay there for long.

 

Pitching on the two-year anniversary of his big league debut, Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha began the game with five hitless frames, extending the Dodgers’ scoreless streak on the road to 42 innings. That’s the longest streak in club history.

 

Wacha wore down in the sixth, allowing a three-run homer to Yasmani Grandal. Saturday was Grandal’s first game back from a concussion. The Dodgers catcher has hit .397 this month with four homers and 18 RBI.

 

Los Angeles won 5-1, giving Wacha his first loss of the season. Wacha tied a career-high by throwing 112 pitches.

 

Jimmy Rollins batted eighth for the Dodgers. It’s the first time he’s hit lower than third since 2010. The last time Rollins hit eighth was May 27, 2004.

 

The game featured a two-hour, 20-minute rain delay. That’s 11 minutes longer than it took to play Saturday’s Orioles/Rays game.

 

Angels Play Home Run Derby

 

The Tigers decided not to take batting practice on Saturday. The Angels took theirs off Shane Greene.

 

In the worst start of his career, Greene allowed six hits, one walk and seven runs in only 1 2/3 innings. In fact, it may have been one of the worst starts in league history. Greene became the first pitcher in the modern era to allow five home runs in less than two innings.

 

One of the home runs came from Albert Pujols. The nine-time All-Star has left the yard in each of his last three games. It’s the first time he’s done that since May of 2012.

 

But back to Greene for a second. He’s the first pitcher to allow five home runs in a game since Bronson Arroyo on September 28, 2013. He’s the first Tiger to do it since Nate Robertson in 2008.

 

Detroit’s Yoenis Cespedes cranked a solo blast off Angels starter Jered Weaver in the second inning. He’s the first Tiger to homer off Weaver since Carlos Guillen in 2011.

 

Chi Chi Cruises in Big League Debut

 

How bad are the Red Sox right now? Well, Saturday it took them five innings to get a hit off Chi Chi Gonzalez, who was making his major league debut.

 

The Red Sox have trailed 42 of 54 innings during their six-game road trip. They’ve averaged just 2.8 runs per game in May, easily the lowest in baseball. The Red Sox have scored their fewest runs through 50 games since 1992.

 

None of these stats should give the Sox much reason for optimism. That team in 1992 finished last in the division, which is exactly where the Red Sox find themselves right now.

 

At least David Ortiz was able to get back on track. After taking two days off to clear his head, Ortiz went 2-for-4 Saturday, ending Gonzalez’s no-hit bid with a double in the sixth inning. Gonzalez’s five-inning no-hitter was the longest by a Ranger in his debut since Roger Pavlik opened with 5 1/3 hitless frames on May 2, 1992 against the White Sox. Papi now has a 15-game hitting streak at Globe Life Park.

 

Wade Miley, who lost a cow-milking contest to Ross Ohlendorf earlier this week, allowed nine hits, two walks and six runs (five earned) in Boston’s 8-0 defeat.

 

 

American League Quick Hits: Orioles center fielder Adam Jones was sidelined Saturday by a mild ankle sprain. He’s missed just six games in his last four seasons … Here’s something bizarre. The Orioles have been shutout four times this year, and they’ve all been against teams from Florida. They’ve been shutout three times by Tampa Bay and once by Miami … With 67 strikeouts in 47 games, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is on pace for 226 punch-outs. That’s three more than Mark Reynolds’ league record … The Rays have committed just 21 errors this season. That’s their fewest through 50 games in team history … Rays closer Brad Boxberger is 14-for-14 in save chances. Opponents are hitting just .197 against him this year… White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera is hitting .087 against left-handers. And he’s a switch hitter … White Sox slugger Jose Abreu missed Saturday’s game with a sore index finger. His X-rays came back negative … Twins catcher Chris Herrmann homered for the first time since August 30, 2013, ending a string of 157 at-bats without a home run. Unfortunately, he also committed two throwing errors … Twins starter Kyle Gibson has fanned three hitters or fewer in seven of his ten starts this year. Despite the low strikeout rate, he has the ninth-best ERA in the American League (2.61) … Blaine Boyer earned the save for Minnesota on Saturday. It was his first since April 2, 2011 … The A’s can’t catch a break. Three days after making his season debut, reliever Sean Doolittle was placed back on the disabled list. He’s dealing with shoulder inflammation … Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has 49 hits and 29 runs this month. One more of each and he’ll join Ty Cobb and Al Simmons as the only players in history to record 50 hits and 30 runs in the month of May … Royals outfielder Alex Rios (broken hand) was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. He didn’t get a chance to play because the Royals got rained out … Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez is 16 hits away from 3,000. Soon he’ll be the 29th player to reach that milestone … Brian McCann has at least one RBI in each of his last eight games. That’s the longest streak by a Yankees catcher since Yogi Berra in 1956 … Alfredo Simon will return to the Tigers’ rotation Tuesday against Oakland. He missed his last start to be with his family after his father passed away … Yoan Moncada, a Cuban prospect the Red Sox signed for $63 million earlier this year, hit his first professional home run Saturday for Low-A Greenville. He turned 20 on Wednesday.

 

National League Quick Hits: Cesar Hernandez homered in the eighth inning Saturday, ending the Phillies’ streak of 57 innings without a home run. It was Hernandez’s second career home run … Rockies starter Eddie Butler walked Chase Utley in the third inning on Saturday. That’s significant only because nobody on the Phillies had drawn a walk since Tuesday … So what did Giancarlo Stanton do Saturday? I’m glad you asked. He homered twice. The first one went 419 feet. The second one was the longest home run in Citi Field history. Stanton’s 466-foot blast left his bat at 114.5 mph. Mercy … One more Giancarlo tidbit. According to ESPN Stats and Info, he’s hit 12 home runs of at least 450 feet since the start of last season. In that same span, only Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion has more than two … Dan Haren made a pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday. He’s the first Marlins pitcher to pinch-hit since Wes Obermueller on June 23, 2007 … Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria missed Saturday’s game with a bruised shoulder. He’s day-to-day … Saturday was Jon Niese’s shortest outing of the season (four innings). The left-hander is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his last four starts … Bryce Harper missed Saturday’s game with a sore back. Reds lefty Tony Cingrani plunked Harper with a 93 mph fastball on Friday … The Nationals finally pulled the plug on Stephen Strasburg, placing him on the 15-day disabled list with neck tightness. Taylor Jordan is expected to take his place in the starting rotation … The Nationals lost for the second time in a row on Saturday. It’s their first losing streak since April 22-27 when they lost six straight. The Reds hadn’t won two in a row since May 14 … Giants starter Tim Lincecum lasted just 4 1/3 innings Saturday against the Braves. That breaks his streak of 15 consecutive starts against Atlanta with at least five innings pitched. He also had his home scoreless streak snapped at 23 innings … Diamondbacks lefty Addison Reed has posted a 2.25 ERA since being removed from the closer’s role on May 15. Part of that has to do with improved mechanics. He’s lowered his leg kick and is now pitching from the first base side of the rubber … Paul Goldschmidt launched two homers on Saturday. He’s now hitting .489 with six homers and 16 RBI in his career at Miller Park (47 at-bats) … Brewers left fielder Khris Davis suffered a torn meniscus on Saturday. He’ll have surgery on Tuesday … Milwaukee celebrated Star Wars night at Miller Park by losing their seventh straight. At 16-34, the Brewers are off to their worst 50-game start since 1972 … Brewers reliever Will Smith will have his appeal heard on Monday. He was suspended eight games earlier this month after umpires found a “foreign substance” on his arm … Tough break for Chris Heisey. The Dodgers optioned him to Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday. He was four days away from reaching five years of service time in the major leagues. Players with five years of service have the right to refuse a minor league assignment … The Cubs and Royals will wear special Federal League throwback uniforms on Sunday. They would have worn them Saturday but the game got rained out  … The Cubs wore Blackhawks sweaters for their team photo. The Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Saturday by beating Anaheim in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals … The oldest living Chicago Cub, Lennie Merullo, passed away at 98 on Saturday. He played shortstop for the Cubs from 1941 to 1947.

 

Jesse Pantuosco
Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.