Houston (CBS HOUSTON) — The All-Stars were announced before the game.
Then the Astros went out and hit Taijuan Walker around like it was the Home Run Derby.
Houston cranked a trio of homers off the Seattle righty through four innings, and Dallas Keuchel backed them up with six innings of two-run ball as the Astros earned the series victory with a 5-2 win against the Mariners on Tuesday night in Minute Maid Park.
None of the home runs came courtesy of the Astros All-Stars — or the potential ones. Jose Altuve and Will Harris made the American League squad and George Springer is a potential All Star as part of MLB’s Final Vote ballot.
But on Tuesday night, it was Houston’s left-handed bats doing the damage.
Colby Rasmus delivered the biggest blow, cranking a #ColbyJack well beyond the bullpen in right-center field to flip a one-run deficit into a 3-2 lead during the fourth inning.
It was just the third home run for Rasmus since May 18 and his 11th of the season.
Heralded rookie A.J. Reed, the weight of his first hit and homer finally lifted off him this past weekend, followed moments later by launching a two-run, opposite-field shot that needed a replay review to confirm.
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“This lineup’s got a ton of power and we’ve had decent success against Walker, getting pitches up and driving them for extra-base hits,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “When our lefties get going a little bit, it can be a really potent lineup.”
Walker exited the game after the fourth due to discomfort in his right foot.
With that three-run lead, Keuchel had all the help he needed.
The lefty has been far removed from his Cy Young form of last season, and Tuesday’s All-Star team announcement was a stark reminder. Keuchel wasn’t even in consideration for a spot, entering the game with a 5.13 ERA.
But he again pitched like he’s figuring it out, at least a little bit, as the season hits the second half. Hinch called it “vintage Dallas Keuchel” in spurts, as the lefty wiggled out of several late jams.
He still allowed a solo home run to Nelson Cruz in the fourth and a fielder’s choice RBI groundout early but was otherwise in fine form, lasting six innings while scattering five hits and striking out six.
“I had a good slider, and that was able to get me through the first couple innings and then I kind of got in a groove,” Keuchel said. “That’s a quality team over there, and it’s nice to finish [the outing] on a good note.”
It was Keuchel’s fourth consecutive quality start, although he has allowed a combined five home runs in those outings.
Still, he’s trending up, although he cautioned against saying he’s back to his old self.
“I don’t feel like I’m on a roll just yet,” Keuchel said.
Luis Valbuena tied the game up in the second inning, cranking a massive 424-foot solo shot into the second deck in right field.
The game heated up a bit in the middle innings, though not from any on-field drama. The air conditioning in Minute Maid Park cut out for approximately three innings, and it quickly got muggy under the closed roof for the announced crowd of 21,553.
Harris got a chance to bask in the All-Star glow, earning his ninth save in as many tries and lowering his ERA to 0.72 with a scoreless ninth inning. He still hasn’t allowed an extra-base hit through 37 2/3 inning this season.
“It may have put a damper on things if I’d have blown it,” Harris quipped. “It was good to go out there and get three outs, especially after the way Keuchel pitched today. I was honored to save this win and hope we can all continue playing good baseball.”
The Astros improved to 5-4 against Seattle this season and will go for the sweep on Wednesday night with Mike Fiers on the mound.