Keuchel: Astros used delay as motivation

Keuchel: Astros used delay as motivation

BALTIMORE -- Astros ace Dallas Keuchel walked to the outfield to start his pregame warmup Sunday afternoon and managed only a few tosses before rain started to fall, chasing him and his teammates into the clubhouse -- where they stayed for the next four hours.

As the tarp at Camden Yards was pulled on and off a handful of times -- remaining on the field during a rather lengthy window in which no rain was falling -- Keuchel and his teammates killed timed. They napped, played video games and ate junk food, according to Carlos Correa, before being given 30 minutes' notice that they had to prepare for first pitch.

Keuchel and Baltimore's Yovani Gallardo both threw a scoreless first before a 30-minute rain delay forced them inside briefly again. Keuchel returned to pick up where he left off and fired eight strong innings to send the Astros to a 5-3 win.

"Major League Baseball's not meant to be played like that," Keuchel said. "I don't condone that type of setup before the game. You're kind of sitting around here for four hours and then all of a sudden you've got a 30-minute window to play. If we want good, professional baseball, that can't happen. We obviously get one inning in and then another rain delay. I don't know who makes the calls around here, but that was pretty subpar. But the game was good."

It's the discretion of the home clubs to determine when a game can start when there's weather concerns, but once the game begins, any stoppages in play are at the discretion of the umpires. Keuchel said he thought it was unusual that Gallardo wasn't doing his warmup tosses when he went to the outfield prior to the game.

"Nobody really told me anything," he said. "Gallardo wasn't out there when I initially went out there, so I knew something was up. Withholding information and not sharing it with us is pretty bogus, so I got pretty mad about that and kind of just channeled that into the way we played today. That's not Major League Baseball."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Gallardo started in the bullpen around 1 p.m. for the scheduled 1:35 p.m. ET game when a line of showers began approaching.

"So we backed off, and the next thing you know, it turned into 5:45," Showalter said. "I thought we were going to be clear there, and something popped up again."

Keuchel (8-12), who posted his third start of at least eight innings and improved to 5-3 with a 3.56 ERA in his last 11 starts, said he took some Advil, fell asleep and played some video games while waiting out the delay. He didn't lose the chip on his shoulder, though.

"If we're going to start it, we're going to start it where there's a good chance a [storm] cell is not coming through and it's going to be an hour notice," he said. "We're waiting four hours, we're not playing Major League Baseball 30 minutes after everybody's been sitting around for four hours. We don't show up to the ballpark at 12:30 and play a 1 o'clock game. Guys have routines, guys get ready, get their body ready, because it's August. Nobody is 100 percent, nobody is close to 100 percent. That really ticked us off, and I think we used that to our advantage."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.