Five runs, five hits, one walk and four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings might not scream "sterling" to many pitchers, but for Chicago White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel, the stuff behind Saturday's box score was special nonetheless.
"This is probably the best physically I've felt all season," Keuchel said. "I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand very well. Sinking, cutting. Mixing the slider very well."
He will look to build on that feeling Thursday night as the Chicago host the Kansas City Royals in the rubber game of a three-game set.
While Keuchel admittedly fell victim to "a lackadaisical mechanical flaw" Saturday that produced a home run -- one of three the Cleveland Indians slugged against him -- he acknowledged in the next breath: "If I clean that up, we'll be all right."
Keuchel (7-4, 4.51 ERA) went 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in five July starts covering 27 1/3 innings. Included was a July 26 loss at Kansas City in which he scattered four runs and six hits in six innings, including two home runs off the bat of Jorge Soler and one from Andrew Benintendi.
If it's any consolation as Keuchel vies for his first homer-free start since June 20, the Royals have since traded Soler to the Atlanta Braves, while Benintendi remains day-to-day with a left shoulder strain sustained Tuesday during Kansas City's 7-1 loss to the White Sox.
After a conservative approach to his spring training workload, Keuchel is hoping to progress toward improved command of the feeling he described following his Saturday outing -- that his control has a positive influence on his durability and stamina.
"The thought process in the offseason was I haven't had a full season in two years," Keuchel said. "You're not supposed to overhand throw 100 pitches a game; that's just not good for you. So to be able to do that 35-40 starts, I knew I was gonna have to say, 'Hey, do I want to give up pitch-making ability for the first month or so in order to make starts and be that longevity guy?' And I did."
Keuchel, 6-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 career starts against the Royals, is set to oppose rookie lefty Daniel Lynch, who is aiming to reverse the horrors of a May 8 start in Chicago.
Lynch (1-3, 6.95 ERA) was unable to escape the first inning that night, surrendering eight runs on seven hits and one walk while recording just two outs.
Optioned to Triple-A Omaha following his next start, Lynch has shown vast improvement since returning to the team last month, going 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two July starts covering 14 innings.
Kansas City belted four home runs Wednesday en route to a 9-1 victory that evened the series.
"We're grinding," said Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who had a solo home run among his two hits. "Guys are getting their work in. ... As long as you keep working and stick with the plan, it's going to turn around."
Kansas City leadoff man Whit Merrifield finished 3-for-5 one night after his 12-game hitting streak ended.
The Royals have won four of their past six against the White Sox.
--Field Level Media