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Series Preview: Twins come back from break, hope to beat Astros

Starting the second half of the season, the Twins travel to Houston to take on the AL’s best team.

MLB: Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
So young, so hopeful. Tales of innocence lost.
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Remember last time the Twins played the Astros? No? That’s okay, alcohol took the edge off that series for me, too. That series back at the end of May was when Houston outscored Minnesota 40-16 in three games at Target Field. Houston also currently holds an AL-best 60-29 record, but there are still a few reasons for optimism in this series:

  1. The Twins are finally rested.
  2. Thanks to early season rain-outs, they played an insane stretch of games prior to the All-Star break.
  3. Houston, like us, has been better on the road than at home. Their split isn’t as extreme, but it is a thing. Since this game is in Houston, that should help.
  4. Most importantly, we are running out our three best pitchers over the last few weeks; and avoiding both Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.

Last time he faced Houston, Jose Berrios did okay, allowing four runs on five hits, while striking out five. Usually that is enough to keep the team in the game, but the Twins did not offer him much run support, and the bullpen let the game get away. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and George Springer have done most of the damage to Berrios so far, those guys account for nine of the ten runs the Astros have scored off him, with the other run being a Preston Tucker home run. Berrios will be starting against Charlie Morton, who is a career 4.49 ERA pitcher, but even better this year. The Twins have not seen Morton this year, and in their limited history against him, hit .286/.389/.429, which is like having a team of Joe Mauers out there.

If you forgot the game Ervin Santana started vs Houston, I applaud you. He pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, and sat down six batters. He left the team with a 7-2 lead, but was victimized by the bullpen. Ryan Pressly gave up 5 runs while only getting a single out. Craig Breslow and Matt Belisle were somehow better, and only gave up three runs each, compared to their outs. If you’re counting, that’s 3 pitchers, 11 runs, and one inning. Drew Rucinski, Triple-A All-Star, cleaned up the mess by allowing three more runs in his inning pitched, for a final of 16-8. Anyway, the Astros batters are either really good, or really bad vs Santana. Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran have been very good, and Carlos Correa has been insane. The young shortstop is 5-for-7 with a homerun. Seriously, he has hit .714/.714/1.286 against Santana. On the flip side, Norichika Aoki, Alex Bregman, and George Springer are all hitless. Springer has struck out seven times in eight at-bats. Joe Musgrove, starting for Houston, has a 6.04 ERA this season, but has never pitched to a Twin. He tends to give up a lot of hits, and get bounced from games early.

Kyle Gibson starts game three, and yes, I did call him one of our top three pitchers. Over his last ten games, he has completed six innings four times, and five innings another four, while holding the opponent under three runs more often than not. Since it is still Kyle Gibson we are talking about, he has given up a lot of hits, and too many fly balls, but he has been able to work out of jams effectively. Hopefully the luck holds a little longer. He has pitched insanely well vs the Astros in his career though, giving up only one home run (to Brian McCann) and holding them to .179/.254/.286. Mike Fiers occupies the bump for the Astros in that game, and he was the gentleman who stymied the Twins in the match with Berrios in the last tilt, giving up two runs on only five hits. Brian Dozier has two dongs off Fiers, and Robbie Grossman and HR-Derby runner-up Miguel Sano each have one. For both Grossman and Sano, that is their only hit, in five and eight at-bats respectively.

The Twins may be a little short-handed for this series, though. Jason Castro missed a game prior to the break with neck spasms, and his status is still unclear. Joe Mauer is still on the ten-day DL as of writing, and while he should return soon, the exact date is unknown. Craig Breslow cannot return from the DL until Sunday, and Justin Haley is scheduled to make a rehab start at Rochester.

Pitching Match-ups

Game 1 Friday, July 14 7:10 pm CT — Jose Berrios RHP vs Charlie Morton RHP

Game 2 Saturday, July 15 6:10 pm CT — Ervin Santana RHP vs. Joe Musgrove RHP

Game 3 Sunday, July 16 1:10 pm CT — Kyle Gibson RHP vs. Mike Fiers RHP

Poll

How many games do the Twins win against the Astros?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    3
    (12 votes)
  • 15%
    2
    (20 votes)
  • 40%
    1
    (52 votes)
  • 34%
    0
    (45 votes)
129 votes total Vote Now