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Preview: Twins (70-65) at Astros (74-62)
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Date: September 06, 2015 2:10 PM EDT
Dallas Keuchel hasn’t been kind to opposing pitchers at Minute Maid Park this season, and there is no reason to think he will change that for Tyler Duffey’s homecoming.
The Houston Astros ace will try to improve his sparkling numbers at home, while the Minnesota Twins’ rookie will look to improve his on the road in Sunday’s series finale.
Keuchel (16-6, 2.24 ERA) has won his first 12 home decisions and will try to become the first pitcher to win 13 straight to start a season since Boston’s Boo Ferriss in 1946.
Only two other pitchers have won their first 13 decisions at home since 1914; Boston’s Tex Hughson (1944) and Larry Benton of the New York Giants (1928).
Keuchel is 12-0 with a 1.35 ERA in 15 home starts, and another victory would make him the second in the majors to reach 17 this season. A win would also make him the first Astros’ pitcher to get to 17 since Roy Oswalt went 17-10 in 2008.
Oswalt is the only pitcher with a sub-2 ERA in a season at Minute Maid Park with a minimum of 81 innings pitched. He had a 1.91 ERA there in 2007.
Keuchel could also break the franchise mark for most consecutive home wins. His 14th straight victory in Houston (74-62), dating back to last year, would pass Danny Darwin’s record of 13 set from 1989-90.
The left-hander picked up his last home win in an 8-3 victory over Seattle on Monday, surrendering six hits and one run in seven innings while walking one and striking out eight. The one run came on a Mark Trumbo solo homer, the first home run Keuchel has given up at Minute Maid Park since Aug. 10, 2014.
Consistency has been Keuchel’s game this year, but the Astros have wavered of late with three losses in their last four games and five in their last eight.
Houston almost rallied for a victory Saturday, but Jose Altuve’s bases-loaded liner was caught by a charging Byron Buxton in center field to seal a 3-2 Minnesota win, cutting the Astros’ lead in the AL West to two games over Texas.
“We thought we were going to make a run at it,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch told MLB’s official website. “I like our competitiveness.”
The Twins (70-65) have won 11 of 15 and remained 1 1/2 games back of the Rangers for the second wild-card spot.
Duffey (2-1, 4.56) was born and raised in Houston and played at Rice University. He has filled the void in Minnesota’s rotation left by Phil Hughes’ back injury over the last month.
‘We’re hungry for good starts and the more we get from here on out the better our chances are going to be,’ Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Duffey will make his sixth start and fourth on the road, where he is 1-1 with a 6.00 ERA compared to 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA at home.
In an 8-6 home win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, the rookie right-hander recorded two outs in the fifth inning before a single, three walks and another single ended his night. He allowed three hits and three runs while walking three and striking out two.