Dallas Keuchel’s business-like approach helps him block out any talk of individual accolades and focus on giving the Houston Astros a solid effort each time he’s on the mound.
That type of demeanor doesn’t resonate with Carlos Carrasco, who wore his light-hearted attitude on his sleeve at the end of his most recent excellent outing.
They’ll oppose each other Monday night as the Astros host the opener of a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians.
Keuchel (10-3, 2.03 ERA) continues showing it was no fluke when he went 12-9 with a 2.93 ERA for the 92-loss Astros in 2014, and his improvement has helped surprising Houston (48-36) surge to the most wins in the AL.
The left-hander has been especially superb over his last two starts, striking out a career-high 12 in a six-hitter to beat the New York Yankees 4-0 on June 25 before winning by the same score Tuesday after giving up seven hits in eight innings against Kansas City.
Keuchel became the first Astros pitcher to win 10 games before the All-Star break since Roy Oswalt in 2005.
"He gets after it every five days, and I think that he does that trying to be the best more than trying to accomplish anything outside of a win," manager A.J. Hinch said.
Keuchel has tossed at least six innings while not allowing an earned run in seven of his 17 outings, including April 6 when he allowed three hits in seven innings of a 2-0 win over Cleveland. He’s 2-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three career starts against the Indians (38-43).
He could be in for a duel against Carrasco (10-6, 3.88), who has gotten better as the season progresses and is 5-2 with a 3.00 ERA over his last seven starts.
After allowing two runs in eight innings of an 8-2 win over Detroit on June 24, Carrasco had a perfect game through 7 1-3 and held Tampa Bay hitless for 8 2-3 before allowing an RBI single in Wednesday’s 8-1 win.
The right-hander struck out a career-high 13 and showed no disappointment after losing the no-hitter and being removed, smiling and lauding second baseman Jason Kipnis for his attempt to snag the line drive that sailed over his head.
"All I could do was laugh," Carrasco said. "Everything was great. Everyone played good. I had my teammates, my defense. You know what? It’s most important that we won."
Carrasco pitched the Indians to a 2-0 victory over the Astros on April 8, allowing three hits and striking out 10 in 6 1-3 innings. He also had the best start of his career against Houston on Sept. 17, tossing a two-hitter in a 2-0 victory.
Cleveland is looking to get back on track after dropping the final two of a three-game series with Pittsburgh. It had won five straight before falling 1-0 on Saturday and blowing a three-run lead in Sunday’s 5-3 loss.
Houston is coming off a similar situation, as it had a five-game winning streak snapped with Saturday’s 6-1 loss to Boston before losing a late lead in Sunday’s series finale and falling 5-4.
Jose Altuve singled to extend his hitting streak to 13, and rookie Carlos Correa had three hits. Correa went 7 for 14 with two homers in the series, including a two-run shot in the seventh Sunday before Evan Gattis’ go-ahead homer two pitches later.
Correa was still in the minors when Cleveland took two of three from the Astros from April 6-8. The Indians have won 13 of the last 16 meetings.