Until Sunday, only four pitchers—Roy Halliday, Justin Verlander, Ubaldo Jimenez and Clayton Kershaw—had thrown 124 or more pitches in a postseason game in the last decade. Astros ace Dallas Keuchel added his name to the list with a seven-inning, one-run, 124-pitch gem leading Houston to a 4-2 win over the Royals at Minute Maid Park. It was his season high in pitch count and took his record this year to 16-0 at home (the 15-0 mark set modern-era records) for the season in front of a boisterous crowd at the Juice Box.
The win leaves the Astros one victory from the American League Championship Series, which could be against in-state rivals, the Texas Rangers.
Despite Keuche's dominance, the game was tight through four innings with the lone run coming off a Lorenzo Cain bomb to left field. It was Keuchel's only serious mistake and his teammates picked him up with two runs in the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the seventh. The first three came from very unlikely sources, First, Jason Castro, who has played masterfully behind the plate but was 0 for the postseason at the plate, smacked a two-run single into centerfield to give the Astros the lead. That was followed by a Carlos Gomez single in the seventh plating George Springer.
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But the offensive hero of the night was Chris Carter. He went 3-3, scored two runs and hit a moon shot home run in the eighth to put the Astros up 4-1. Carter, who had been much maligned throughout the season despite big power numbers, came through at the perfect time.
Tony Sipp worked two outs in the eights and Luke Gregerson closed out the final four outs, making it a little interesting by giving up a solo homer to Alex Gordon in the ninth.
Royals starter Edinson Volquez managed to match Keuchel pitch-for-pitch through four, but was touched for three runs in five innings while striking out eight. But, it was Keuchel who worked his way out of multiple jams en route to the game three win. Perhaps the most significant stat of the night was hitting with men in scoring position for the Royals: they were 0-9.
Now, the Astros can eliminate the Royals at home in game four Monday at MMP with an early noon start. They send rookie Lance McCullers to the hill opposite game one starter Yordano Ventura, who only went two innings in game one before being pulled after the rain delay. McCullers was 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts this season.