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October 5, 2017

Dallas Keuchel

Houston, Texas - pregame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Did you expect that when Verlander came, especially as well as he pitched, that he would probably get the Game 1 assignment here, and if so, what are your thoughts on getting the ball in Game 2?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I knew when he came over it was going to be a pretty good rotation, and I was pretty outspoken with what our need was and what the guys in the clubhouse wanted. But at that point that was the last thing on my mind. It was more about trying to get back on the winning track and making sure we were ready to go come playoff time. I think probably the last one or two starts and most relevant in Texas is when I knew it was either going to be me or him 1 and 2, and we couldn't have picked a better guy for Game 1, just his experience. I mean I pitched Game 3 in a Division Series in 2015, so I mean that was literally the last thing on my mind. But I'm happy to pitch at home and in front of this beautiful crowd.

Q. How do you feel like your experience in 2015 will help you going into this postseason?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think it's going to have a lasting affect and just to draw comparison to what the feelings I felt and how nervous I was going into not only the Game 3 start, but the Wild Card start as well. That's going to give me a lot of advantage I feel like. And this crowd is trick. Especially with the roof closed, it feels like there's about 90 thousand people instead of 40, 45 thousand. I told some of the guys for the first time I said, Get ready because you're going to need some earplugs. I wasn't able to talk to the guys next to me on the bench. We were just in silence just listening to the crowd and listening to the game play on the field. So it's going to be loud, but it's going to be exciting. I'm grateful that we got some experience in 2015 and hopefully that will carry us to the championship series.

Q. After what you touched on 2015, after having been through that, how do you look at this team and the chances it has to make a really deep run?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: I think we have as good a chance as anybody. When you really break it down, it took Cleveland 22, 23 wins in a row to catch us and they're the No. 1 seed, but we're no slouch either. I think we matchup well with the Red Sox. They have a really good team and they won the East for a reason. But I like our chances. From the start of spring training on, everybody started talking about 2017 playoffs and that was for a reason. Everybody knew we were going to be good, all we had to do is just put it together and we did. So added a few pieces along the way and now we're sitting here talking about the Division Series.

Q. Mainly pitchers mostly like the routine five days on, five days off. Any concerns that you are going to be able to pitch with eight, nine days rest?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: No, I mean I felt pretty good, I only threw a three-inning simulated game in Boston the last day of the year, but everything checked off what I wanted to get done and felt good. So I just chalk it up to a little bit more fresh than usual and I'm sure I'll be a little bit more exhausted come game time tomorrow just because of how much energy and the adrenaline going in my body. But just drawing back on the previous experience is going to help me a little bit more than what I would have been without it.

Q. As a Cy Young Winner, All Star yourself, what do you look for when you see a matchup like this, Verlander and Sale, two guys in your class? What sort of things do you look for just from a pitching standpoint that you appreciate in a match like this?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, based on some of the pitching so far this postseason, I hope that Verlander's on his game and it's been some pretty potent offenses so far. But in this matchup I would really expect both guys to be pitching instead of just throwing. There's an art to pitching, and obviously I don't throw hard, but I'm a pitcher and that's what I enjoy. Since Verlander's been over here, I think his pitching game has been at an all-time high. And he's asked me numerous questions, we have bounced questions off each other and all the other starters and he really wants to be a better pitcher more so than having his velocity back and throwing 96, 97, 98. But Chris Sale can be that guy, too. So it's really going to be a chess match here from pitch one. I think whoever gets the edges and the corners high and low more so than the other guy, that guy's going to have the advantage and hopefully it's J.V.

Q. Can you talk to the mood of the clubhouse compared to 2015 when you were those young guys kind of just getting into the playoffs and where you guys are now mentally?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: The mood? This is the most magical time of the year, so everybody's ecstatic. I think I had a few more dreams than I usually do in my sleep last night just because I was excited. But honestly I think the team was more excited in 2015 just based on the fact that it was our first time actually doing something and getting to the postseason. This year it was, it wasn't expected because nothing's expected in this game, but it was as close to expectations from each guy, each individual guy as a whole, a 25-man whole, as you can imagine. And that doesn't mean that we were cocky or confident. It was just that if we each did our individual job, we were going to be sitting pretty and having a chance to be here. So for us to be here now is really something that we thought about in spring training. So for it to be here now, we don't get as excited, I guess, if that makes any sense. But come game time, it's going to be like we're our first ever Game 1.

Q. Your fondness for pitching here. What is it about this ballpark, this environment, these fans that kind of gets you to another level in terms of your production, because obviously you have a long history of pitching very well in this ballpark?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, I think number one is the fact that a lot of the fans here know their sports. So, in turn, that just makes sporting events that much better. It doesn't have to be baseball. It could be football with the Texans or basketball with the Rockets or even the Dynamo. I mean everybody knows their sports here. So when they come to the ballpark, they're very knowledgeable about how the game should go and what to expect and whatnot. Various points in the game, you'll see guys, you'll see fans standing up and cheering loud in 3-2 count or a crucial at-bat. Everybody's in the know. So that really tops No. 1. But 2, it's just an atmosphere, with the dome, and just with the orange and blue colors. Orange is a very electric color and it's hard to miss, so when we have an orange out or a lot of fans wearing orange, especially in Keuchel's corner, it's a good feeling to have. And it just feels as close to home as it's going to feel for me, and I've enjoyed it and it gives me that extra little boost each and every time, it really does.

Q. To what degree is the Red Sox running game, their ability to steal bases, a concern to you going into this start tomorrow?
DALLAS KEUCHEL: Well, it's not really a concern that I -- I have known for awhile how good they are at the little things in the game and they do possess a challenge keeping guys honest and keeping guys from stealing bags. It's just something that we're going to have to play in the game. Hopefully I don't give up that many hits to let guys steal, but it will be one of those things where it's just a cat-and-mouse game. And that's one of the beauties of baseball, is you get on any way possible: error, hit, catcher's interference, something. You're liable to steal a bag if you're on the Red Sox lineup. We have done a pretty good job ourselves with stealing bags and generating runs from that aspect of the ball game, so it's clearly on my mind. It's been talked about numerous times in the clubhouse this last four or five days, especially -- and the catchers know it, too. So we'll be on the same page, hopefully, and keep those guys honest enough to where I can maybe get a ground ball and get a double play in a crucial situation.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thanks for coming in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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