HOUSTON– Until Dallas Keuchel‘s last start, the crafty lefty had yet to give up a home run in Houston all season. On Sunday afternoon, Keuchel would give up three, but remained undefeated at Minute Maid Park in 2015.
Keuchel gave up two early homers to the Twins, one in the fourth to Brian Dozier, his 27th of the year, and one in the fifth to Eduardo Escobar, his 9th of the year. Other than the home runs, Keuchel was dominant on Sunday afternoon only giving up five hits and three runs, while striking out 12 Minnesota hitters through eight innings.
After the game, Astros Manager A.J. Hinch talked about his ace.
“He’s (Keuchel) going to challenge the strike zone and when he does leave a mistake or two up against some home run style hitters, that can happen,” Hinch said. “There’s no one on base, they’re solo home runs, and they’re efficient. Obviously he doesn’t want to do it and he doesn’t like it, but solo home runs don’t beat you. And they didn’t beat us today.”
Houston native Tyler Duffey looked dominant through six innings and even through the beginning of the seventh as he gave up a one-out single to Carlos Gomez, then a two out single to Luis Valbuena. Paul Molitor decided to go to his bullpen after the Valbuena single into left field. Pinch hitter Preston Tucker walked on five pitches to load the bases, and Jose Altuve hit a slow bouncer to Trevor Plouffe that he beat out for an infield single. That was Houston’s first run of the ballgame. One hitter later, third basemen Jed Lowrie rocked a 2-1 changeup, from reliever Trevor May, for a grand slam into the right field seats. Lowrie’s first career grand slam was his eighth homer of the year and put the Astros on top 5-2.
“That was a pretty excited dugout,” added Hinch. “Especially when you hit a grand slam like that. It energized the dugout. It was a big inning for us we’d had runners on base all day but that by far was the biggest hit.”
After Keuchel gave up his third homer of the game in the eighth, a solo shot off the bat of Aaron Hicks, Houston went back to work in the bottom half of the inning, getting that run back and more. Gomez walked to lead-off, and Marwin Gonzalez blooped one up the middle for a single. Left fielder Jake Marisnick then hit a big fly, also his eighth of the year, into the Crawford Boxes to give Houston an 8-3 advantage.
The Twins got two runs back in the ninth on a sac-fly from Escobar, and an RBI single from pinch hitter Kennys Vargas, but Chad Qualls and Luke Gregerson closed the door on the Twins for an 8-5 Houston victory.