The Definitive Guide to Houston

Keuchel Rights The Ship

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Here’s the bad news: The Astros lost their series against the rival Texas Rangers, two games to one. That’s two series losses in a row, and leaves the ‘Stros with just three wins in their last ten games.

Now for the good news: Staff leader Dallas Keuchel finally flashed his Cy Young form on Sunday afternoon, leading Houston to its only win of the series on the back of 6 2/3 dominant innings. Keuchel allowed one earned run on six base hits, walking three and striking out seven. He earned the victory, moving to 10-2 on the 2017 season.

It was a long time coming. Keuchel hadn’t tallied a W since way back on June 2 – also against the Rangers, in Arlington. He hit the disabled list with neck discomfort a few days after than, and missed most of the next two months slowly mending the nagging injury. Sunday marked his fourth time starting since rejoining the Houston roster, and his first time pitching to his own lofty standards. A healthy and effective Keuchel would go a long way towards stabilizing a Houston rotation that’s missing electric youngster Lance McCullers Jr.

Jose Altuve – who’s batting a stunning .362, and is emerging as a frontrunner for the American League Most Valuable Player award – led the charge on offense with a pair of base hits, including his 18th home run of the season. A seventh-inning RBI single from Carlos Beltrán gave the Astros a 2-1 lead before Keuchel turned the game over to the bullpen.

Houston closer Ken Giles recorded six outs for his 23rd save of the season, notching two strikeouts along the way. Giles has been a bright spot for a beleaguered Houston bullpen, working to a 2.86 ERA in an array of high-leverage situations.

Clippard Brought In To Shore Up ‘Pen
The Astros may have missed out on their top targets ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline, but GM Jeff Luhnow and company are still keen to improve their club. Word broke late on Sunday that Houston had acquired White Sox reliever Tyler Clippard to do exactly that. Clippard has been a solid arm for the Sox this year, pitching to a 1.80 ERA in 11 games since the All-Star break, including two recent scoreless innings against the ‘Stros in Chicago.

Harris On The Way
Continuing the theme, Houston reliever Will Harris threw off a mound on Sunday – a critical step in his rehabilitation from an inflamed shoulder. Harris has been dearly missed – he ran a 2.86 ERA this year before his injury and can help reinvigorate a bullpen that’s looked overworked and overmatched since the break.

‘Stros Set To Rattle Snakes
The Astros are traveling to Arizona to take on an unfamiliar opponent – the Arizona Diamondbacks of the NL West. The D-Backs are enjoying a stellar year. At 65-52, they share the third-best record in the National League. Even so, they sit a stunning 18 games out of first place, behind the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers. Collin McHugh draws tonight’s start for the ‘Stros. He’ll face a tough opponent: Arizona ace Zack Greinke. Greinke will sling his first pitch at 8:40 Central.

Noah is a Houston-based writer and lifelong baseball fan. Weekends and evenings find him experimenting in the kitchen, exploring Houston with his wife, or obsessing over cats and minor league boxscores.

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