Keuchel, Astros still have something to prove against Yanks

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Dallas Keuchel's Short Rest Isn't a Concern for A.J. Hinch


NEW YORK (AP) -- For Dallas Keuchel, pitching on three days' rest for the Houston Astros in the American League wild-card game is just one more chance to prove a season's worth of doubters wrong.

"I play with a chip on my shoulder," Keuchel said Monday at Yankee Stadium. "I think a lot of the guys do in there as well. And we'll always carry that."

Before they take on a pitcher who shut them out twice this season, the New York Yankees faced another difficult challenge: Clubhouse leader CC Sabathia is not going to be with the team in the postseason because he is checking into an alcohol rehabilitation center.

"For tomorrow, not just for the team, but maybe we can get the win for CC as well," Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka (12-7) said Monday after a meeting that not only focused on the Astros but also how players could support their friend and teammate.

SEE MORE: Astros, Yanks ready to get wild

To advance to the Division Series and face the Royals in a best-of-five matchup that begins Thursday night in Kanas City, the Yankees will have to figure out how to beat the AL's only 20-game winner in a winner-take-all playoff Tuesday night after going scoreless against him in 16 innings this season.

Keuchel (20-8) might have trouble walking the streets of Manhattan these days with his distinctive bushy beard giving him away to fans, but he's been elusive on the mound in a season that has made him a Cy Young Award candidate.

And first-year manager A.J. Hinch, who pressed all the right buttons in guiding the surprising Astros to their first postseason in 10 years, is confident his 27-year-old ace will handle the short rest without a problem.

"I think his preparation is fine. Physically he's fine. It's just a little bit of a different routine," Hinch said. "It probably garners more attention than it needs to. But at the end of the day, I think if he pitches well it will be a lot of guts and he came through on short rest. If he doesn't pitch well, then it's a change in routine and a lack of rest."

Keuchel sees the questions about his ability to start without regular rest just one more reason for Houston to defy expectations. The young ballclub, with a rising star in rookie shortstop Carlos Correa, is two years removed from a 111-loss season. But the Astros surprised almost everyone in baseball by racing out to a big lead in the AL West only to fade in September before rallying and earning the second wild card on the final day of the schedule.

SEE MORE: St. Louis showing the 'Cardinal Way' works

"We proved people wrong continuously throughout the season and we're going to try to continue to do that," Keuchel said.

The storied Yankees were also a bit of a surprise; not much was expected from an aging roster with pitching questions the year after Derek Jeter hung up his spikes. But led by the resurgent Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (who is injured), New York sat atop the AL East late into the summer before slumping down the stretch.

Keuchel will be facing a New York lineup that has limped into the postseason, losing six of seven games.

In better times for the Yankees, Keuchel shut them out with a six-hitter in Houston on June 25. He repeated that impressive performance in the Bronx, pitching three-hit ball for seven innings on Aug. 25.

"He's a guy who keeps the ball down in the zone," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You can't chase on him."

Jason Castro, who has caught Keuchel throughout his development into this year's AL All-Star Game starter, credits a slider the left-hander can spot well repeatedly as one of the keys to his success.

"He's come a long way. He's made some great improvements over the last few years," Castro said. "His slider has developed into a plus pitch."

If the Yankees are going to finally get to Keuchel in their first postseason game since 2012, they might need Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Rodriguez to emerge from their second-half swoon.

But A-Rod, who has struggled mightily in many Octobers past, sees things differently.

Just as this season was for him after sitting out last year because of a drug suspension, the postseason is a clean slate for everyone.

"It all goes back to reset," he said.

RANKING THE BEST AND WORST BALLPARKS:

31 PHOTOS
Ranking MLB stadiums
See Gallery
Keuchel, Astros still have something to prove against Yanks

30. Tropicana Field, Tampa Bay Rays

The playing surface is a mixture of grass and artificial turf, and there are fire inspection rings in play over head. Must be a joy to play in.

(AP Photo)

29. Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays

The only things worse than this warehouse-looking place are the metric measurements on the outfield walls.

(Shutterstock)

28. O.co Coliseum, Oakland A's

Any place sewage seeps back through the clubhouse drains probably isn’t a suitable location for pro sports.

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

27. Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas Rangers

Remember when this place was state of the art? Neither do we.

(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)

26. U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox

What’s more bland than the Chicago White Sox? Their uniforms. What’s worse than that? The stadium.

(AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

25. Turner Field, Atlanta Braves

This place won’t live to see its 20th birthday. Good luck to the Braves’ next home, which will probably still always be empty, too.

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)

24. Marlins Park, Miami Marlins

Makes perfect sense for an orange and teal team to play in a stadium with neon green everything. Also, has anyone ever figured out what exactly this is? 

(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

23. Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels

Nothin’ like some fake rocks in center field to really set the mood for a baseball game.

Flickr

22. Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians

The fact that it’s no longer Jacobs Field bumps this down at least five spots.

Flickr

21. Busch Stadium, St. Louis Cardinals

Can this place just stay out of the playoffs just once?

Flickr

20. Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati Reds

How cheap is that wind tunnel?

 (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

19. Chase Field, Arizona Diamondbacks

Center field is the deepest part of the stadium, guys. The wall doesn’t need to be that high.

Clintus McGintus/Flickr

18. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees

Great place to see the best baseball players of the 20th century.

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

17. Miller Park, Milwaukee Brewers

Bernie sliding down that slide for every home run is ridiculous and awesome at the same time. Every time.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

16. Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies

Once you get over the fact that some little league parks have deeper fences? Cool place to catch a game.

 (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

15. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers

They should probably just name it Vin Scully Stadium at this point. Might help them out in these rankings.

 (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

14. Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals

The scoreboard being shaped like a long crown is a bit odd, but you can’t blame them for playing up the whole royalty thing.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

13. Coors Field, Colorado Rockies

If it’s not a blizzard in Denver, Coors Field is still pretty impressive. But let’s lose those humidors and get these balls flying like its 2001. 

(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

12. Comerica Park, Detroit Tigers

Credit to the grounds crew for making sure the infield didn’t collapse through the ground while Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera manned the corners. That approached a good 600 pounds of man.

 (AP Photo/Matt Halip)

11. Minute Maid Park, Houston Astros

Get back to us next year, once that ridiculous hill and flag pole are scrapped.

(AP Photo/Bob Levey)

10. Target Field, Minnesota Twins

You probably won’t want to sit outside in Minnesota until about mid-June, but after that, Target Field is tough to beat.

 (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

9. Citi Field, New York Mets

Ownership may be fresh out of cash, but at least its stadium has an awesome selection of $12 beers. 

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

8. Nationals Park, Washington Nationals

It’s been seven years, and the team just can’t sell these naming rights. Strangely, this makes the park even cooler.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

7. Safeco Field, Seattle Mariners

For a stadium that opened up in 1999, the Mariners’ digs have held up pretty well -- even when their roster hasn’t.

 (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6.. Petco Park, San Diego Padres

Fun fact: An old candy factory building was physically moved to make room for the stadium. 

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

5. Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox

Relax, Fenway is definitely an amazing place to watch a game. But sitting directly behind a pole and/or facing the left-center field wall just isn’t always appealing.

(Shutterstock)

4. Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs

We’re glad the Cubs decided to keep their old home intact, but there’s no two ways about it: Until renovation is complete, Wrigley is a dump.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh Pirates

After two decades under .500, the Pirates are finally playing some winning ball again. Good thing, because their park deserves as many games as possible.

 (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

2. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore Orioles

Still as beautiful as the day it opened in 1992, Camden Yards is headed toward becoming the next legendary American ballpark. 

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

1. AT&T Park, San Francisco Giants

Already 15 years and three names later, AT&T Park remains the best place to watch a Major League Baseball game. Between the amazing food, packed-out stands and the glistening bay in right field, San Francisco is lucky to call it home. 

(AP Photo)

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Read Full Story

People are Reading