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Keuchel stellar in Hooks' shutout06/11/2011 12:25 AM ET
By David Heck / Special to MLB.com
Perhaps Dallas Keuchel should get knocked out a little more often.
The Astros prospect continued his impressive run since returning from a concussion, limiting Double-A Midland to one hit over seven innings on Friday as the Corpus Christi Hooks blanked the RockHounds, 4-0.
Since coming off the disabled list on May 13, Keuchel (4-5) has put together a 2.70 ERA in six starts. The injury occurred on what he called a "freak play" in the third inning of his May 2 outing against Frisco.
"Me and third baseman [David Flores] collided on a shallow, broken-back liner between the mound and third base," Keuchel said. "Both of us got knocked out. It was a pretty weird play. I don't think I'd ever seen anything like it before."
Keuchel started strong Friday, retiring the first 10 batters. The only hit he gave up came with one out in the fourth, when Tyler Ladendorf singled on a ground ball off the glove of third baseman Jimmy Paredes.
"We started out with a fastball away for a ball and came back with a changeup that he swung through," Keuchel said. "I tried to come in with a fastball and he got enough bat on it to put it in that sweet spot between third and short. ... It was one of those seeing-eye singles. I was pleased with the location, he just got more of it than I would've wished."
Ladendorf turned out to be the only RockHound to reach against Keuchel. He got aboard again in the seventh on a throwing error by shortstop Jonathan Villar.
Keuchel struck out eight, tying the second-highest total of his career -- he fanned eight for short-season Tri-City on Sept. 5, 2009, then struck out 11 on May 17, 2010 while pitching for Class A Advanced Lancaster.
Against Midland, the 23-year-old left-hander fanned at least one batter in every inning except the third.
"I always try to get ahead of guys," Keuchel said. "Anytime you can get ahead, it's in your favor and the batter's in defensive mode. My location was great -- I felt tremendous out there. I haven't felt that good in a while. I knew I could put a pitch where I wanted to."
Selected in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft, Keuchel posted a 3.77 ERA across two levels last year, including a 4.70 mark in nine starts with the Hooks. This season, the Oklahoma native has improved his ERA by more than a run and a half with Corpus Christi, as his 3.16 mark ranks fifth in the Texas League.
He said his experience in 2010 has helped him greatly during his second stint in the Texas League.
"It pretty much just changed how I approach my offseason and what to focus on in the offseason, pitching-wise," Keuchel said. "Having the ability to throw multiple pitches for strikes instead of throwing the fastball and hoping the off-speed stuff was there. Coming here last year opened my eyes to what I needed to do to further my career in the Minors and hopefully in the Majors."