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Twins 9, Astros 5: Hip Hip, JORGE!

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Polanco’s big night leads Twins to series-opening win

Minnesota Twins v Houston Astros
Somehow the Twins are paying just five million a year for this guy.
Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Twins jumped out to an early lead in this one, as they got on the board before the Astors even had a chance to bat. Three straight two-out hits capped by a C.J. Cron two-run double gave the Twins an early 2-0 edge.

After one pitch into the second inning, the Twins were up 3-0. Which one of the Twins red-hot sluggers mashed that first-pitch home run you might ask? Why Jason Castro, of course. If you don’t believe me, check out the video evidence below.

Twins catchers have absolutely been mashing this season, a big reason for their offensive success. The starting catchers for Minnesota have combined to hit .369 with an OPS of 1.196, better than any other position on the team going into the game against the Astros. It was a question going into the season how Baldelli would handle the catching situation, but I think it’s safe to say that he has managed it excellently with the high-level offensive production and the serviceable defense that the position has produced.

The Astros would get one back in the bottom of the fourth, but couldn’t add on after a perfectly executed Twins relay canned Josh Reddick trying to score from first on a Tyler White double. Two strong throws that were right on the money from Eddie Rosario and Jonathan Schoop kept the Twins lead at two going into the fifth.

Minnesota would strike again in the sixth, dropping a four spot in the frame with a a couple of clutch hits and some help from the Astros defense. After one-out Schoop double and a walk by Jason Castro, Byron Buxton hit a deep flyout to left and it looked like the Astros might get out of the inning unscathed.

Max Kepler thought differently, singling through the middle and bringing up Polanco, who stroked his third of the games to bring in two more Twins. The ball also scooted past the right fielder Reddick, allowing the Twins shortstop to reach third. Polanco was the fourth Twin to reach home in the inning as Nelson Cruz hit his second infield single of the day, which Dick Bremer surmised “was a sign of the apocalypse”.

Things got more interesting (not in a good way) in the seventh inning, as Ryne Harper gave up his first runs in his big league career. With two on and two out and an 0-2 count to Carlos Correa, it looked like Harper was ready to curveball his way out of the inning and continue his scoreless streak. Unfortunately, Correa mashed a 2-2 91 MPH fastball over the left field fence to bring the score to 7-5.

Luckily, the Twins have a hitting machine that goes by the name Jorge Polanco. After a Max Kepler walk, Polanco ripped his fourth dinger of the year to put Minnesota back up by a score of 9-5.

Albeit some baserunners, Adalberto Meija and Blake Parker worked a scoreless 8th and 9th (respectively) to close down the victory. Michael Pineda will be on the mound tomorrow against Wade Miley as the Twins go for the series win.

Notes:

Jake Odorizzi used his curveball quite bit tonight, and has been utilizing the pitch more throughout his other starts this year as well. Prior to this season, the most he had tossed up the deuce was 7.7% of the time in his rookie season in 2013. Coming into tonight’s game, it was his second most used pitch in 2019 at 15.0%. Against the Astors, he threw the curve 26 times over 99 pitches and was pretty effective with the pitch.

Byron Buxton was caught stealing tonight in the eighth inning after a steak of 33 successful stolen bases. It took a perfect throw from Houston’s Robinson Chirinos, and Buxton was still nearly safe. My guess is that he will start a new streak very soon.

This Twins lineup is flat our raking right now and could be a legitimate top-five offense in baseball.

STUDS:

Jorge Polanco: 4-5, 4 RBI, 2B, HR

Nelson Cruz: 2-5, RBI

Jason Castro: 1-2, HR, 2 BB

Jake Odorizzi: 5.2 IP, 2 ER

DUDS:

NO DUDS TWINS WIN!

Robot Roll Call: