Pitcher is 15-0 at Minute Maid Park this season with a 1.46 ERA
HOUSTON — Dallas Keuchel has been asked why he pitches so well at home so many times that Saturday, when it was posed yet again, Houston’s ace had a little fun with the answer.
“Maybe it’s the temperature,” he said. “I don’t know the AC … set on 71.”
Keuchel went 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at Minute Maid Park this season, which is the best such mark in modern Major League history, eclipsing two pitchers for the Boston Red Sox, Boo Ferriss and Tex Hughson, who both went 13-0 in 1946.
Sunday when the Astros play host to a playoff game for the first time since the 2005 World Series, Keuchel will try to extend the mark and give Houston a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series against Kansas City.
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His franchise-record home winning streak is actually 16 games after he won his last home start of 2014, and his ERA in Houston is the lowest home ERA in the AL since former Astro Nolan Ryan had a 1.07 ERA in 1972.
This will be Keuchel’s second start in this postseason. He pitched six scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over the Yankees in the wild-card game to put the Astros in this series.
Royals manager Ned Yost is well-acquainted with Keuchel and his work. He must think a lot of him, because as manager of the AL All-Star team he named the 27-year-old his starter. Yost also was asked why he thinks Keuchel has been so dominant at home.
“He’s just good,” Yost said. “I mean, he’s just good. But you look at his home and away record, there’s quite a big difference in that. But … he just pitches good here. And sometimes there’s just no reason for it.”
Keuchel is one of the few remaining players who were around for the really tough times, playing through two of Houston’s 100-loss seasons before the Astros started to turn things around last year. Though they’ve already played three postseason games, suiting up for the first one at home adds a little something extra.
“That means a lot to me not only because I’m trying to get myself better, but the Astros as a whole and the city of Houston mean the world to me,” he said. “I was drafted by them and I was in the minor leagues with them. So I give everything I possibly can, and I know they are appreciative of that. And anything we can do to bring the city together, we’ll do.”
Keuchel went 1-1 against the Royals in the regular season. He had a tough time in Kansas City on July 26 when he yielded 10 hits and five runs in 62/3 innings.
The Royals will counter with Edinson Volquez, who went 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA this season.
• Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil said he cried while walking to the clubhouse after being helped off the field Friday. Cecil’s season is over because of a torn calf muscle, and the left-hander has been replaced on Toronto’s postseason roster by rookie right-hander Ryan Tepera. “It’s not the way I perceived it ending,” Cecil said.
• Adrian Beltre stayed home Saturday, resting his strained lower back and taking medications. The Rangers still were unsure if their veteran third baseman would be back in the lineup for Game 3 when they go for a sweep in the best-of-five series against the Blue Jays.
• Cubs closer Hector Rondon got stuck in the bullpen bathroom for several minutes during Game 1 Friday of the NL Division Series. The latch apparently froze during the latter innings in St. Louis, and fire department officials had been on standby before personnel got the lock to function. The team replaced the lock before Game 2 Saturday.