LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Monday marked Dallas Keuchel's turn to audition for one of the final two spots in the Astros' starting rotation, and the left-hander endured a rough first inning before bouncing back to throw three scoreless innings against the Braves.
Keuchel, who appears to have wrapped up a spot on the Major League roster, gave up back-to-back homers to Chris Johnson and Justin Upton in the first inning, but worked swiftly in the second and fourth and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third.
"I made an adjustment last time out," said Keuchel, who was touched for 13 hits and seven runs in four innings in his last start. "My velocity was down last start, and I hadn't gotten into my legs yet. It was all upper torso, and I've been kind of achy and just trying to get back into my legs. I felt really good coming out of the gate. It was not a very good start."
Keuchel tried to sneak an 0-2 fastball past former teammate Johnson, who crushed it and sent it well over the wall in center field for a three-run homer.
"It's Major League Baseball, so any time you get 0-2, you can't take your foot off the gas," Keuchel said. "I didn't spot a high fastball, and C.J. hit it out. I tip my cap to him. Just kind of worked through it. That's a good lineup over there, so you have to come with your 'A' game every time out, and I did a good job battling through the last three [innings]."
As far as his immediate future with the team, Keuchel isn't worried.
"I've had three send-downs already, so it's nothing new" he said. "Whatever happens, happens. I go out there like it's my last time every time."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.