Houston, we have a series.
And suddenly, Dallas Keuchel has pressure to duplicate his mastery over the Yankees, who beat the Astros, 6-4, Tuesday to tie the best-of-seven ALCS at two games apiece.
Keuchel, who was not available post-game, might have inadvertently stirred up the Yankees fans during a pre-game news conference Tuesday on the eve of his pitching Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
Referring to his introduction Monday night during player introductions, Keuchel said he enjoyed the boos from Yankee fans. “But to have some boos getting introduced, that was a nice feel,’’ he said at an afternoon news conference before Game 4. “You get boos against the ‘evil empire’ at the home turf, it makes you feel good just because you’re doing your job correctly. Obviously, my job is to win for the Astros.’’
The Red Sox tagged George Steinbrenner’s Yankees as the “evil empire’’ in 2002 when they outbid Boston for Cuban righthander Jose Contreras. Then-Red Sox president Larry Lucchino was quoted at the time, “The evil empire extends its tentacles into Latin America.’’
Keuchel was asked if he has had any interaction with Yankee fans on the streets of New York. “I usually always do,’’ he said.
“And that’s also one of the joys is when you’re doing your job correctly as a visiting player for the visiting team against the Yankees, people always are going to have choice words for you. So I fully expect that. It’s not just me, though. There’s a lot of other guys on the team that have done well for one reason or another.’’
Astros reliever Joe Musgrove does not anticipate Keuchel feeling any added pressure, saying “We expect Dallas to be Dallas. The bullpen will get back to work and pick him up when we need it. But we expect him to have a strong game.”
Keuchel shut out the Yankees over seven innings in Game 1 of the ALCS. Yankee fans also have not forgotten his dominance in the 2015 wild-card game at the Stadium when he pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.
With Mark Herrmann