By: Trey Looney
After pitching 6 strong innings of shutout ball Tuesday night in New York at Yankee’s Stadium, Kuechel sluffed off any talk of only 3 days rest even being a problem going forward.
“I felt better than a week’s rest, I’ll tell you that,” said Keuchel. “I think with the command I need and the stuff I possess, I really feel like I’m better suited for shorter rest than longer rest, and I think a lot of those guys would say the same thing.”
His dominance of course extended further than just last night as he became the all time leader in consecutive shut out innings pitched against the storied NY franchise. 22 innings, 12 hits, 2 walks and 28 K’s. Do the Math. For every Base runner that is two Strikeouts, a .545 WHIP, ZERO runs allowed—In other words; Complete Dominance. Even A-Rod concluded after the 0-4 night that Kuechel already has the stuff of legends, “He’s Greg Maddux from the left side, with a little better slider,” Alex Rodriguez said.
Many pundits felt the youth of this team and the fact that they were going up against a historical juggernaut might make the Astros fade their bravado. That was simply not the case. All reports indicated this team was loose and although Tanaka cruised through the first inning The perennial long haired rock-star, Colby Rasmus, didn’t feel any pressure at all golf balling the first pitch he saw deep into the right field seats.
“We had some good vibes going, and with Dallas on the mound, I think that gave us a calming sense,” Rasmus said. “Thankfully I was able to hit that home run to get everybody feeling loose and having fun and not tight. I think we stayed poised in this environment, and guys fed off it.”
Given his propensity for multiple HR’s in a game it was surprising he didn’t jack another one. That’s OK though because Gomez came up in the top of the 4th and deposited his first pitch into the left field bleachers. Jose Altuve added an insurance run in the 7th on a bloop single to left. This was after pinch runner Villar had stolen second base getting a great jump on reliever Dellin Betances. The pitch to Altuve was low and away but he was still able to get the barrel on it and lift it into left field. For those that have seen Altuve play this season they will know this was classic Altuve. Taking a pitch outside of the strike zone and simply getting the job done.
This all set the stage for the bullpen when again the pundits raised their heads and declared victory for the Yankees. The Astros bullpen which had been at times shaky to finish the year off came in and at least at first it looked as if they might give up some runs. Sipp however pitched through some of his jitters and after a walk got a key strikeout of Greg Bird in the seventh on a perfect 3-2 slider on the low outside part of the plate. Will Harris followed with a 1-2-3 8th and Luke Gregerson was untouchable in the 9th spotting his fastballs with an untouchable slider.
All of this adds up to a division series with the Royals of Kansas City. Check out the preview tomorrow in the AM.