MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - INSIDE PITCH


HOUSTON -- In the aftermath of the Astros' 10-1 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday night, Houston interim manager Tom Lawless and left-hander Dallas Keuchel were able to share different interpretations from the same humorous in-game confrontation.

With Keuchel one inning shy of reaching 200 for the season, Lawless had no intention of holding Keuchel back from opening the eighth inning despite the starting pitcher having 109 pitches on his ledger. He joked that had Keuchel found trouble, he would have to make his way to the mound.

Keuchel said later that he would simply run to left field to avoid being removed, making clear how vital the 200-inning plateau was.

"It was important for him because he probably won't pitch anymore," Lawless said. "He'll probably be shut down after the 200 innings because that's way more than he had last year."

Keuchel (12-9) logged 153 2/3 innings in 2013 while splitting time between the rotation and the bullpen. Expectations were modest entering this season, but Keuchel seized momentum with one stretch of brilliance starting in May. He didn't relent, and he closed his season with five complete games to go along with a sparkling 2.93 ERA in exactly 200 innings.

Keuchel will enter next season as the staff ace after closing 2014 with a well-deserved week off.

"They haven't told me specifically, but I think so," Keuchel said of Saturday representing his season swan song. "I know they weren't going to let me go over 200 (innings), so I guess that's probably it."

Another member of the Astros' improving rotation got the job down Sunday. Right-hander Collin McHugh gave up three runs in six innings in an 8-3 victory over the Mariners, winning his seventh consecutive decision.

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MLB Team Report - Houston Astros - NOTES, QUOTES


RECORD: 69-87

STREAK: Won two

NEXT: Astros (RHP Nick Tropeano, 1-1, 2.70 ERA) at Rangers (LHP Derek Holland, 1-0, 0.99 ERA)

PLAYER NOTES:

--2B Jose Altuve finished 2-for-4 with an RBI, raising his major-league-leading hit total to 220. He surpassed Rod Carew for the most hits by a second baseman since Charlie Gehringer recorded 227 in 1936. Altuve has 68 multi-hit games this season, the most since Ichiro Suzuki had 69 in 2010.

--CF Jake Marisnick went 2-for-5, and for the second consecutive game, he belted a three-run homer in the seventh inning. He is batting .412 (7-for-17) with two home runs and eight RBIs during his four-game hitting streak. The Astros improved to 8-6 with Marisnick starting in center field.

--RF Alex Presley matched his single-game career high of three hits, finishing 3-for-5 with a two-run single. It was his second consecutive multi-hit game and marked the first time this season he had consecutive multi-RBI games. Presley is batting .360 (9-for-25) with a home run and six RBIs in his past seven games.

--RHP Collin McHugh won a seventh consecutive decision, becoming the first Houston pitcher to win seven successive decisions since RHP Roy Oswalt won nine in a row from Aug. 23, 2006-April 17, 2007. The last Houston pitcher to win seven consecutive decisions in a single season was LHP Andy Pettitte in 2005 (Aug. 21-Sept. 20). He threw six innings of three-run ball Sunday against Seattle. Over his past 10 starts, McHugh is 7-0 with a 1.77 ERA.