Dallas Keuchel had a different catcher before throwing his first pitch for the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.
Everything worked out just fine with Tim Federowicz behind the plate with the former AL Cy Young Award winner throwing some of his best breaking pitches all season.
Keuchel struck out seven and allowed only two runs over seven scoreless innings Dustin Brown Jersey , winning for only the second time in his last nine starts, as the Astros beat the Texas Rangers 5-3.
”Some of the shape it was taking early was really good. (Shin-Soo) Choo leading off the game, anytime you get him to swing and miss at a breaking pitch, it’s acting pretty good, and then (Nomar) Mazara struck out looking with a slider away,” Keuchel said. ”Both of those balls had good action and I knew from the then on if I could establish the fastball in to the lefties, it would be a good day.”
Josh Reddick and Tony Kemp homered for the Astros, who are 11-4 this season against their instate division rival, with seven consecutive road wins in the series. Houston is a majors-best 31-14 on the road this season.
Keuchel (5-8) struck out the first four batters he faced, and six of the first seven.
After catcher Brian McCann went on the disabled list and had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier Tuesday, manager A.J. Hinch said Max Stassi would do the bulk of the catching. But Stassi got hit by a pitch batting in the first, and left the game with a bruised right (throwing) wrist before even taking the field on defense.
”I think we avoided a fracture, very good for us,” manager A.J. Hinch said. ”Got him pretty good in the wrist. Got a welt there, couldn’t flex his hand, hand so mobility.”
X-rays were negative and Stassi is considered day to day.
Keuchel had only thrown a few bullpens with Federowicz in spring training, and a live BP session, before the catcher was called back from Triple-A Fresno earlier Tuesday.
”The way he handled the game not expecting to play, that was really impressive,” Keuchel said.
Choo later walked twice and had two singles to extend his career-best on-base streak to 43 games, the longest in the majors since Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman’s 46-gamer two years ago. Choo is three games shy of Julio Franco’s team record of 46 in a row set 25 years ago.
The Astros used three relievers to get through the eighth. Texas already had a run in before Hector Rondon took over against pinch-hitter Joey Gallo, who worked a 12-pitch at-bat into a two-out walk to load the bases before Robinson Chirinos struck out. Rondon then worked the ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.
Houston went ahead to stay in the first when Yuli Gurriel and Reddick had RBI doubles off Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2), who still managed to get through six innings. He struck out four, walked two and hit two batters.
”To get through six in that situation was huge for us,” manager Jeff Banister said. ”Early on it didn’t look that it was going to be the case Jonathan Quick Jersey , a situation where really didn’t have a whole lot of sink on the fastball. … For us to still have an opportunity there through those innings, it was big-time by him.”
Astros: SS Carlos Correa, out since June 26 with lower back soreness, has been working out daily in Houston. Hinch said it was uncertain if Correa will be ready to play Friday when eligible to come off the DL. He hadn’t gone through any baseball activities yet.
Rangers: RHP Tony Barnette left the game after a 2-1 pitch to Marwin Gonzalez in the eighth. The Rangers said he had a right shoulder strain and would be evaluated further Wednesday. … 1B Ronald Guzman had two hits and scored twice after being activated from the seven-day concussion DL.
The Astros have homered in 23 consecutive road games, a club record and four from matching the MLB record set by Oakland earlier this season. … Before Bibens-Dirkx plunked Stassi in the first inning, Rangers pitchers had gone 22 games without hitting a batter – the longest span for the team since 1998.
DOUBLE DOUBLED UP
Astros leadoff hitter George Springer was in a 3-for-46 slide before a single in the sixth. But he was also doubled off twice on hard lineouts.
Gerrit Cole (9-2) will pitch on regular rest for the Astros after they made a slight tweak in their rotation. Lance McCullers Jr., who was scheduled to start, was instead pushed back to Friday. Rangers lefty Mike Minor (6-4) took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his last start, a win last Wednesday over the San Diego Padres.
Canada and Sweden will face off for gold medal at the world junior hockey championship Friday night.
”I think it’s the two best teams that are going to meet,” Swedish goaltender Filip Gustavsson said.
Gustavsson made 29 saves and Sweden had a three-goal third period to beat the defending champion United States on Thursday in the first semifinal.
Drake Batherson had a hat trick to lead Canada over the Czech Republic 7-2 and into the title game for the third time in four years.
Canada and Sweden have played for the gold medal game three times before, in 1996, 2008 and 2009. The Canadians won all three contests.
With the expected No. 1 pick in this year’s NHL draft, defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, and several other top prospects on the roster, the Swedes believe they have the talent to claim their first gold medal since 2012. Sweden finished fourth each of the last three years after finishing second in 2013 and 2014.
”Everyone is here to win,” Swedish coach Tomas Moten said. ”So if we’re not going to win tomorrow, I don’t think the feeling will be any different than last year when we lost the bronze medal game.”
The U.S. was trying to become the first country to win back-to-back gold medals since Canada claimed five straight from 2005-09. The Americans have never won a gold medal on home ice.
”This one blindsided us because we felt so strong with how we were going,” U.S. coach Bob Motzko said. ”We had a vampire suck it out of us today. It just tells you how tough it is.”
Elias Pettersson, Lias Andersson, Oskar Steen and Axel Jonsson Fjallby scored for Sweden, which has not trailed in any game during the tournament. Linus Lindstrom had two assists.
”We have every chance to win gold,” Dahlin said. ”We’re so excited about tomorrow.”
Sam Steel, Maxime Comtois, Jordan Kyrou and Boris Katchouk also had goals for Canada, which has won every game in dominating fashion aside from its 4-3 shootout loss to the U.S. in the preliminary round.
Canada came alive late in the first period after spotting the Czechs a 1-0 lead in the first six minutes. Steel and Batherson scored power-play goals to make it 2-1 by the end of the first.
”The first goal was more of a wakeup call for us Tobias Rieder Jersey ,” Batherson said. ”After that, we played our game and showed our true colors.”
The Canadians scored four times in a 10-minute span of the second period. Batherson, a fourth-round draft choice of the Ottawa Senators, scored his third goal to make it 6-1 with 3:02 remaining in the third and tie U.S. forward Kieffer Bellows and the Czech Republic’s Filip Zadina for the tournament lead with seven goals.
Zadina, one of the top prospects eligible for this year’s NHL draft, scored both goals for the Czech Republic.
”I was glad to play well, but I’m so sad because we lost. My goals mean nothing,” Zadina said. ”We will do anything锟絫omorrow. We will die on the ice to bring a medal back to Czech Republic.”
After beating Canada in a shootout to win the gold medal last year, the U.S. will try for its sixth bronze medal against the Czechs on Friday. The Americans placed third in 1986, 1992, 2007, 2011 and 2016.
”The goal at the beginning of the tournament when everything starts is gold medal,” Bellows said, who scored his tournament-leading seventh goal against Sweden. ”But I know we have to push this behind us and get ready for the bronze medal game. We’re doing this for the team in the locker room and USA Hockey as a whole.”
The Czech Republic last won a bronze medal in 2005. Czechoslovakia placed third six times from 1977-1993.
Bellows and Brady Tkachuk scored late goals for the U.S. after Sweden built a 4-0 lead midway through the third period.
The U.S. controlled the action for much of the first two periods before Pettersson’s power-play goal put Sweden ahead 1-0 with 6:30 left in the second.
With U.S. defenseman Dylan Samberg in the penalty box for high-sticking, Pettersson, the Vancouver Canucks’ No. 5 overall pick last year, received a pass in the left faceoff circle from Buffalo Sabres 2016 first-round selection Alex Nylander and one-timed a slap shot over Woll’s shoulder into the far corner of the net.
Nylander’s assist gave him 28 career points at the world juniors, equaling father Michael Nylander for fourth on Sweden’s career list.
Gustavsson’ preserved the lead when stopped U.S. forward Casey Mittelstadt on a 3-on-0 breakaway in the final minute of the second period. Mittlestadt, the Sabres’ most recent first-round pick, entered the game leading the tournament with 10 points.
Andersson made it 2-0 when he tapped in his sixth goal of the tournment on a 2-on-1 with Fredrik Karlstrom early in the third period. Steen and Jonsson Fjallby scored shorthanded goals 38 seconds apart before the U.S. pulled goaltender Joseph Woll with 11:25 remaining.
”We failed Joe tonight,” Motzko said. ”Joe didn’t fail us.”
Bellows scored on a power play to end Gustavsson’s shutout bid with 7:36 remaining. Tkachuk’s goal came with 3:01 left to play and the U.S. was unable to score on a power play in the closing minutes.
Pro Football Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas dropped the ceremonial first puck wearing a replica of one of his older Buffalo Bills jerseys, matching the U.S. uniforms. Team USA also wore the blue jerseys and pants during its preliminary-round win over Canada outdoors at the Bills’ New Era Field.
Earlier Thursday, Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup scored