Dallas Keuchel (8-4, 2.63) vs Erik Bedard (3-5, 4.33)
When the Astros first took on the Rays at Minute Maid 9 days ago, Houston was one of the hottest teams in the Majors, whereas Tampa Bay occupied Houston's familiar worst-in-MLB spot. After playing each other now 7 times in the last 10 days, the Rays are still worst in the Majors, but it's the Astros that once again look the part. A 3-run 6th against Dallas Keuchel propels Tampa Bay to a 5-2 victory this afternoon, and a 3-1 series triumph. Overall, Tampa Bay took 5 of 7 from Houston in the Battle of Teams with Orange Juice Themed Stadiums, the Astros have lost 7 of 9 overall, and they fall to 33-44 on the season.
On the Mound:
*For 5 innings, Kid Keuchy was expectedly solid, allowing only a solitary 1st-inning run. In the 6th, he began to look more vulnerable, getting touched for a walk and three singles that led to two more Rays runs, then a George Springer error led to one more. After a smooth 7th, Keuchel ran into trouble again in the 8th, touched up by two more singles and two sacrifices (one bunt and one fly). So the Kid's final tally came to 4 ER for the second straight start, and a new season high of 5 R surrendered total. Line: 8 IP / 9 H / 5 R / 4 ER / 4 BB / 4 K.
*Perhaps the best thing that could be said for Keuchel's outing today is that the Astros bullpen went untouched. With an off-day tomorrow, they ought to be well rested for the Atlanta series starting on Tuesday.
At the Plate:
*Dexter Fowler got Houston off to a fast start against old friend(?) Erik Bedard, stroking the very first pitch of the game over the left field fence for his 6th home run of the season. Dexter later singled to finish 2x5 with 2 K.
*Jonathan Villar had a double in the 3rd, which led to a caught stealing at third, which was then overturned into Villar's 14th stolen base. That call was big, because it led to Houston's second run (and a 2-1 lead at the time), and Villar finished 1x3 with 2 K.
*Jose Altuve got the single that scored Villar following Bo Porter's successful challenge. He also added a walk, and his first strikeout since June 5 (!), finishing 1x3.
*Chris Carter broke his 0-since-June-13, going 1x4 with 2 K today.
*Jesus Guzman got the start at first today and went 1x3 with a BB and a K.
*Carlos Corporan rounded out the offense for the Astros, going 1x4 with a K.
*And it should be noted that while George Springer went 0x2 with a BB, and his 6th inning error gave the Rays a run, he also took a run away by throwing out Evan Longoria at home for the final out of the 8th.
Houston left runners on second and third in the top of the 6th, but still led 2-1 when Dallas Keuchel began the bottom of the frame by walking Ben Zobrist. Back-to-back singles by Brandon Guyer (on a bunt) and Evan Longoria then loaded the bases with no out. Following a strikeout of Jerry Sands, Yunel Escobar singled to George Springer in right, scoring both Zobrist and Guyer and giving Tampa Bay their first lead of the game at 3-2. But the play didn't stop there, as Springer kicked the ball away while trying to pick it up, allowing Longoria to move up to third. One pitch later, Sean Rodriguez grounded to Matt Dominguez at third, and Houston tried to turn the double play, but Rodriguez beat the rap at first, scoring Longoria with an unearned run and capping the Rays' 3-run inning.
Man of the Match:
Dexter Fowler. He almost had an even better day, but his flyout ending the game died on the warning track in right.
Goat of the Game:
Dallas Keuchel. Or, really, the third base bag at Lake Elsinore.