The Houston Astros are entering their second-to-last homestand with the right man set to take the mound.
Dallas Keuchel could have as many as four home starts remaining depending on how Houston aligns its rotation, and the first comes Monday night against a Seattle Mariners club which has chosen to rest its ace.
Keuchel (15-6, 2.28 ERA) can become the first to win his first 12 home decisions since Johan Santana went 12-0 in 17 starts for Minnesota in 2006. While Santana won the Cy Young, his 2.19 home ERA doesn't quite rival Keuchel's 1.35 mark entering this contest.
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The left-hander is 11-0 in 14 home starts, and the only pitcher to finish with at least 11 wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.50 at home dating to 1914 is Orel Hershiser. The Los Angeles Dodgers' former ace went 11-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 17 starts and two relief appearances at Chavez Ravine in 1985.
In Tuesday's 15-1 win at the New York Yankees, Keuchel gave up three hits with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings to become the first AL pitcher to 15 wins and first Houston arm to get there since Roy Oswalt went 17-10 in 2008.
Since that loss to the AL West-leading Astros, the Yankees have scored 40 runs in four games, while Seattle's 3.9 per game rank 13th in the AL.
"(The Yankees have) got a lot of guys that are professional over there and know what they're doing, and I'm lucky enough to have some good quality innings against them," Keuchel told MLB's official website.
The Mariners, however, are one of two teams to tag him with five runs this season in a 6-3 final in Seattle on June 20. The 27-year-old lasted six innings and gave up home runs to Nelson Cruz, Mark Trumbo and Seth Smith as he fell to 3-4 with a 2.88 ERA in eight appearances in the series. Cruz (6 for 12), Trumbo (5 for 10) and Smith (4 for 12) have all homered off him twice, but Robinson Cano is 2 for 16.
The pitching matchup would have been great had Felix Hernandez kept his spot in the rotation, but Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon elected to rest him and go with Vidal Nuno.
"I did the same thing last year to freshen my pitchers up and Felix had the best September of his career," McClendon said. "Everybody thought I was nuts when I did, and I'll do it again because it's the right thing to do."
Nuno (0-1, 3.21 ERA) pitched an inning of scoreless relief Wednesday following a four-start stretch in which he went 0-1 with a 4.58 ERA. The left-hander has a 1.50 ERA in six relief innings against Houston.
The Astros (72-59) fell 7-5 in Minnesota on Sunday, dropping two of three in the series as their division lead was trimmed to three over streaking Texas. The lineup was up and down on a 3-3 trip while being shut out twice, but it could be getting healthier soon.
George Springer (broken wrist) is on a rehab assignment, and Carlos Correa has missed four consecutive games with a sore hamstring but could play Monday.
"I'm really close," Correa said. "I just don't want to force it and then miss September baseball."
The Mariners (61-70) lost 6-5 at the Chicago White Sox on Sunday but have been hitting better lately with 5.4 runs and a .297 average over a 5-3 span.
Austin Jackson was a double away from the cycle, has a nine-game hitting streak and is batting .394 in his last 18. Kyle Seager also had three hits and is 8 for 15 with homers in three straight games.