Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel did a spectacular job in his major league debut last Sunday, limiting a dangerous Rangers lineup to one run in five innings.
In his second major league appearance, the 24-year-old lefty from Tulsa, Oklahoma was even better.
Keuchel, a seventh-round pick of the ‘Stros in 2009, recorded a complete game on Saturday afternoon at Minute Maid Park as Houston rolled to an 8-1 victory over the American League Central-leading Indians.
Keuchel needed just 108 pitches — 70 of which went for strikes — to carve his way through the Cleveland lineup. He struck out three and walked just one while holding the Tribe to six hits and one earned run.
Keuchel had an underwhelming 4.26 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 46/15 K/BB ratio in 80 1/3 innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City before his promotion to the major leagues. But it’s hard to argue with the results he’s flashed thus far. The young southpaw got an opportunity to show his worth and is absolutely sprinting with it.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.