The nausea became too much for Dallas Keuchel. Feeling and looking sick the past few days, Keuchel bravely warmed up in hopes of winning his tenth game of the year but the wooziness was evident. 15 minutes before game time, A.J. Hinch told his managerial counterpart, Ned Yost, that Keuchel would be sent back to the hotel. That decision led the Astros to a 7-5 loss on Wednesday night.
McCann: Four hits in losing cause
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Dayan Diaz had just arrived from AAA Fresno when he got the news he would be that night's starting pitcher. Welcome back to the show, rook. The Colombian righthander had 15 minutes to steady his nerves and go out there. It went about as you might expect.
Brian McCann gave his batterymate a shot of confidence with a solo homer off Jason Vargas after Diaz had set the first three Royals down in order. Then reality hit.
Cheslor Cuthbert ripped a two-out double that tied the game and scored when Alcides Escobar poked a go-ahead single. Lorenzo Cain smashed a solo homer in the third and that was all Hinch needed to see of Diaz. Tony Sipp replaced him and the rest of the night was spent chasing the Kansas City lead.
Vargas has been living a charmed season. A sub-.500 lefty over 11 campaigns before this one, Vargas won his eighth after lasting just five innings and allowing two runs. Five Royal relievers took it the remaining frames.
Meanwhile, Diaz' quick exit left a lot of innings for the Houston bullpen. Sipp and Michael Feliz allowed a pair of runs each before Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles restored order.
With a 7-2 deficit, the Astros tried to repay Kansas City for their late-inning comeback surprise of the night before. McCann produced his third hit and came around to score on Jake Marisnick's short poke to center in the eighth. After George Springer walked to load the bases, an error by Escobar let home two Houston tallies. Jose Altuve represented the potential go-ahead run but he tapped into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
McCann added his fourth hit in the ninth against Kelvin Herrera but the Royals closer was able to keep it from mushrooming into a score as he claimed his 13th save.
Hard to believe that, this late in the season, exactly half of Houston's 18 losses have come from either the Indians (5) or the Royals (4) but Kansas City gets one final shot at the Astros on Thursday night at 7:15 Central when Lance McCullers (6-1) hopes to even the series as he faces Jason Hammel (2-6) who was 15-10 last year with the Cubs.
Both sides also were making roster changes. Houston called up Dayan by sending down Reymin Guduan. Depending on the health of Keuchel, another move may be coming. Meanwhile, Joe Musgrove is expected to toss a bullpen session on Thursday to determine if his shoulder is ready to resume pitching.
- Bob Hulsey