Kubel slams 3 HRs, takes RBI lead
The Houston Astros have enough problems without providing opponents with one free pass to first base after another.
The Astros generously walked eight en route to their second straight blowout loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Four of those who walked scored in a 12-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Saturday night, Houston’s fifth straight defeat and 18th in 20 games. Houston walked six, and all of them scored, in a 13-8 loss in the series opener Friday night.
Dallas Keuchel, brought up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make the start after J.A. Happ was sent to Toronto as part of a 10-player trade on Thursday, gave up seven runs, six earned, and seven hits in just 3 1’3 innings. He walked four.
”I had quite a few walks my last Triple-A starts, too,” he said. ”I kind of attribute to after the All-Star break being a little rusty. My two-seam has had a little more run than it usually does. I have been having trouble trying to command it down and in to the righties. The last couple of starts I have gotten away with the walks but today they put some good swings on it.”
None of the swings were better than Jason Kubel’s. The Arizona left fielder became the seventh player in Diamondbacks history to hit three home runs in a game, driving in six in the process.
”Kubel got me twice and the third at-bat was a two-seamer down the middle and he had a pretty good swing on it,” Keuchel said. ”The first at-bat was 2-2 and I wanted to elevate, get it out of the zone, but I left it too much on top of the zone.”
In a home park that loves a left-handed hitter, Kubel came out swinging when he came from Minnesota as a free agent and has emerged as one of the most effective sluggers in the National League.
”I put some good swings on some balls, some balls up,” he said. ”The balls I was missing yesterday, I wasn’t missing tonight. I’m just happy with how it turned out. It was a fun win for us.”
Kubel hit a two-run home run in the first inning and a three-run shot in the fourth off starter Dallas Keuchel (1-2). He added a solo homer off reliever Enerio Del Rosario in the sixth. Left-handed pitchers such as Keuchel are supposed to have an advantage against left-handed hitters. Kubel’s power display defied that conventional wisdom.
”You don’t see many games like that,” Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. ”He just loves the fastball and was seeing it good. The second one was pretty impressive. It looked like it was in on him as well. He gets the bat there really quick, to all fields. He’s got a very short stroke and he gets the barrel to the ball.”
With the first three-homer game of his career, Kubel leads the NL with 70 RBI.
Wade Miley (11-5) gave up a run and four hits in seven innings, striking out a career-high nine while setting a franchise rookie record for victories.
The Astros’ road record, worst in the majors, fell to 10-40.
Kubel is one of six players to hit three home runs in a game this season. That includes Josh Hamilton, who hit four. Kubel has 20 home runs, including a two-homer game Thursday in Cincinnati.
Willie Bloomquist went 3-for-4 with three RBI for the Diamondbacks. Aaron Hill singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Diamondbacks, on the opening weekend of a 10-game homestand, have outscored the Astros 25-11 in the first two games of the series.
Third base umpire Kerwin Danley left in the middle of the sixth inning to attend to an unspecified personal matter.
Notes: Takashi Saito, activated from the DL earlier Saturday, relieved Miley in the eighth and became the first Japanese player to play for the Diamondbacks in franchise history. … Josh Collmenter (2011), Oscar Villarreal (2003) and Brandon Webb (2003) also won 10 games as Arizona rookies. … The Astros named RHP Francisco Cordero closer after RHP Brett Myers was traded to the Chicago White Sox earlier Saturday for two minor league prospects. … RHP Collmenter (1-2, 3.90 ERA), returning to the rotation after RHP Trevor Bauer went back to the minors, goes in Sunday’s series finale for Arizona against Houston’s RHP Jordan Lyles (2-6, 5.29). … Houston has not won a series since taking two of three from Cleveland July 22-24. The Astros’ last road series win was June 8-10 against the White Sox in Chicago. … Arizona has won 16 of 20 against Houston dating to Aug. 23, 2009.