MINNESOTA 9, HOUSTON 5 AT HOUSTON
Date: Monday, April 22.
Batting stars: Jorge Polanco was 4-for-5 with a home run (his fourth) and a double, scoring twice and driving in four. Nelson Cruz was 2-for-5. Jason Castro was 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks, scoring twice.
Pitching stars: Jake Odorizzi pitched 5.2 innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and no walks and striking out two. Adalberto Mejia pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one. Blake Parker pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
Opposition stars: Josh Reddick was 3-for-4. Tyler White was 2-for-2 with a double and two walks. Michael Brantley was 2-for-5 with a home run (his fourth) and two runs. Carlos Correa was 1-for-5 with a three-run homer, his fourth.
The game: The Twins took the lead in the first inning, as two-out singles by Cruz and Eddie Rosario and a two-run double by C. J. Cron gave them a 2-0 lead. Castro led off the second with a home run, making the score 3-0. It stayed 3-0 until the fourth, when Brantley led off with a single, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Reddick's single to cut the lead to 3-1.
The Twins seemed to take control of the game in the sixth. Jonathan Schoop doubled and Castro walked. With two out, Max Kepler singled, Polanco had a single-plus-error, and Cruz singled. Four runs scored, putting the Twins up 7-1. Brantley led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer, making the score 7-2, but the Twins still seemed to have the game well in hand.
In the seventh, however, George Springer led off with an infield single and Alex Bregman drew a one-out walk. Brantley lined out, but Correa hit a three-run homer, making the score 7-5 and putting the Astros right back into the game.
In the eighth, Polanco took them right back out of it. With two out and none on, Kepler walked and Polanco hit a two-run homer, making the score 9-5. Houston did not get a man past first base after that and the victory was secured.
WP: Odorizzi (2-2). LP: Brad Peacock (1-2). S: None.
Notes: Polanco is batting .392. Cruz is batting .315. Parker has an ERA of 1.23. Harper gave up his first earned runs of the season and is has an ERA of 2.89.
Byron Buxton was caught stealing. If I'm reading it right it's the first time he's truly been "caught stealing" in his career, in the sense of the catcher gunning him down rather than oversliding the bag. I guess it had to come sometime.
Harper giving up runs had to come sometime, too. Has his bubble burst, or was this just a blip? Time will tell, but I'm hopeful. It looks like the home run was the only ball hit hard off him. And as great as his story has been, it wasn't realistic to think he was going to pitch all season with an ERA of zero. I guess we'll see.
It was mentioned in the game log that perhaps Rocco is relying too heavily on Rogers and Hildenberger. I don't think I agree. Rogers has appeared in ten games and pitched 11.2 innings. Hildenberger has appeared in eleven games and pitched 7.2 innings. Given the number of off-days we've had, that doesn't seem like too much to me. They've each pitched on consecutive days three times and never on three consecutive days. I actually think Rocco has done a pretty good job of using his whole bullpen, including using Mejia in the eighth inning last night. It's something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, but I really don't have a problem with it so far.
Someone said in the game log that, going into this series, they were simply hoping the Twins would take one of three. I was pretty much in that same place. Now, of course, we hope they will take at least two, if not more. We'll see.
Record: The Twins are 13-7, in first place in the American League Central, 1.5 games ahead of Cleveland.
Projected record: We're still on track for 155-7!