Austin Pruitt started Wednesday’s game for Tampa Bay with a 6.63 ERA. But The Woodlands College Park High School and University of Houston product out-dueled Houston ace Dallas Keuchel as the Rays blanked the Astros 3-0 at Minute Maid Park.
Pruitt (6-2) scattered five hits in 6.1 innings, walking just one batter and striking out three. Steve Cishek, Dan Jennings and Alex Colome combined on the shutout. The Astros went 0-9 with runners in scoring position.
Keuchel suffered his first loss of the year and fell to 9-1. The loss snapped Keuchel’s 11-game winning streak dating back to August 21, 2016 and fell one shy of the club record of 12, accomplished twice, by Wade Miller in 2002 and Mark Portugal in 1993.
Keuchel lasted five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs while exhausting 87 pitches.
The Rays didn’t waste any time getting to Keuchel. Logan Morrison drilled a two-run homer to the bullpen in right-center field in the first inning to provide an early 2-0 lead.
Tampa Bay added another run in the third inning when Brad Miller’s two-out single plated Wilson Ramos from second for a 3-0 Rays advantage.
“He (Keuchel) wasn’t sharp,” explained manager A.J. Hinch. “But just from start from start, you look back on how much time he has missed and then the rehab starts and this being his second start, it is a step in the right direction. But normally he is a lot more efficient with his pitches.”
Keuchel said he felt fine but didn’t do himself any favors by getting into hitters counts early.
“We will clean it up and I need to be better,” Keuchel admitted. “It all started with me. Tempo was slow, just kind of methodical and guys just kind of fed off that. It wasn’t a very good game by any means and we will look to make some adjustments.”
Since the All-Star break the Astros have played .500 baseball (9-9). The Astros have scored just 25 runs in those nine losses.
The Astros and Rays will conclude the four-game series Thursday night in a 7:10 p.m. game. Collin McHugh (0-0 4.22) will start for Houston against Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell (0-6 4.87).
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