Keuchel throws 2 shutout innings in debut, Astros top Braves
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel pitched two shutout innings in his spring training debut Wednesday, and the Houston Astros went on to beat the Atlanta Braves 9-5.
Keuchel faced eight batters, giving up a walk to Freddie Freeman and a double to Adonis Garcia before striking out Kelly Johnson to end the first inning.
''I'm nobody now. It's 2016 and I'm just an Astros pitcher,'' Keuchel said. ''We've got five or six good guys who are vying for spots and who can help take us to a championship.''
Keuchel went 20-8 and led the AL with a 2.26 ERA and 232 innings.
''Getting him prepared for the season starts with a nice quick outing, with ground balls and a few swings and misses. Very much Dallas Keuchel,'' manager A.J. Hinch said.
He gets four more starts before opening the season on April 4 at Yankee Stadium, where he won last year's AL wild-card game.
''It's definitely based on how my body's feeling and reacting,'' Keuchel said. ''I'm not going to be disappointed with having a more tentative schedule and just seeing how it goes. Right now it feels great. It's typical spring training soreness and fatigue. It's just about stamina and building up the endurance.''
Jason Castro hit his first spring training home run for the Astros, a drive off Julio Teheran, who also made his first start. Marwin Gonzalez hit his second homer for Houston.
Jose Altuve's two-run double highlighted a five-run fifth off Chris Volstad.
Teheran gave up three hits and two runs in three innings.
Braves: Teheran gave up three hits and two earned runs in three innings, walking one and striking out one.
Astros: The double by Garcia was the only hit off Keuchel, who gave up one walk and had one strikeout.
Freeman has a double and two home runs in seven at bats. A wrist season ended 2015 early for him.
''Good things are happening right now. Hopefully I'm not peaking too early, but I feel good,'' he said. ''For some reason my timing came a little early this year.''
Braves: C Tyler Flowers has a little discomfort in a leg, but manager Fredi Gonzalez hopes he can play as soon as Thursday.
Astros: Castro was bruised when a backswing by Braves SS Ozzie Albeis struck him on the left elbow.
Braves: LHP Bud Norris is to face Miami at Jupiter on Thursday.
Astros: RHP Collin McHugh is to pitch against the Washington at Viera.