Dallas Keuchel stepped up on Sunday and did what ace pitchers are supposed to do - stop losing streaks. Ken Giles stepped up and did what closers are supposed to do - whatever it takes to keep the opponents from late rallies. Together, Keuchel and Giles came up big in halting Houston's five-game losing streak in a 2-1 nailbiter over the Rangers to salvage one game out of the three-game series.
Keuchel: a needed gem
(c) Associated Press
Keuchel worked into the seventh inning, allowing one run on six hits and three walks while fanning seven. Hopefully, this turns a corner on both Keuchel's comeback and the Astros'.
Jose Altuve struck the first blow, an opposite-field homer in the fourth against Andrew Cashner who also pitched well. The Rangers answered with a solo homer in the sixth by (guess who?) Adrian Beltre to tie the score.
In the seventh, Yuli Gurriel cracked a double and scored on a base hit from Carlos Beltran. Chris Devenski took over for Keuchel with two away in seventh and retired Elvis Andrus to finish the frame.
Devenski walked the first two batters in the eighth, however, and Manager A.J. Hinch went to his closer Giles to get him out of trouble.
Joey Gallo smacked a liner at first baseman Gurriel who flipped to Marwin Gonzalez covering second for a rally-killing double play. Giles then struck out a pair in the ninth to seal his 23rd save of the year.
Later Sunday, the Astros added reliever Tyler Clippard from the Chicago White Sox for cash considerations or a player to be named later. The 32-year-old Kentucky native is a reliable late-inning specialist who has been a closer on occasion. After seven years with the Nationals, this is now Clippard's sixth organization in the past three seasons. The righthander has 54 strikeouts in 46 innings so the heater still works.
With some dignity intact, the Astros now finish the road trip with two games against interleague foe Arizona in Phoenix. Collin McHugh (0-1) gets a chance to add to Houston's momentum but it won't be easy against Zach Greinke (13-5). The first pitch will be at 8:40 Central time at Bank Foreclosure Field.