That was a fun one, folks.
The Twins jumped out to a relatively early lead and watched their starter throw eight shutout innings while the offense added on a few more runs.
But, first things first: is Martin Perez ... good? Yours truly could not have been the only Twins fan who was baffled at a) the Twins’ signing of Perez in the offseason and b) the amount of money they paid Perez and his 4.63 career ERA.
Apparently, the adjustments that pitching coach Wes Johnson and the Twins staff have made to Perez’s delivery and mechanics have worked exceedingly well, as he was hitting 95-96 miles-per-hour with impressive control throughout the night, and the multiple versions of his cutter baffled the entire Astros lineup, Nos. 1 through 9.
The Twins didn’t score until the bottom of the third inning, but then Jonathan Schoop destroyed a baseball to the tune of 465 feet and into the third deck in left field, which is not a place that balls are hit all too often. (Those of us watching the game on ESPN were treated to Joe Mauer making a half-hearted joke about how that’s where he used to hit ‘em. Good stuff.)
Then, a Byron Buxton single and stolen base, a Max Kepler ground-out to the right side — which, let’s be honest, made ol’ Joe’s heart skip a more significant beat than the triple-decker bomb that Schoop hit —and an infield single from Jorge Polanco on a dribbler that went about 30 feet and the Twins led 3-0.
The Twins scored again in the fifth inning on a Nelson Cruz broken-bat single that drove in Kepler. In the eighth inning, Cruz banged a double off the wall in right-center to score Jorge Polanco, who had previously doubled. Then, after a grounder advanced Cruz to third, a sacrifice fly from C.J. Cron to extend the lead to 6-0.
Perez threw exactly 100 pitches through eight sparkling innings and was replaced by Trevor Hildenberger in the ninth. Hildy gave up a pair of runs, but other than messing up the box score a bit, no real damage was done.
- Hot take: if Perez throws eight shutout innings every time out as the fifth starter, then the Twins knew what they were doing after all.
- The offense continues to be a beautiful blend of doubles and homers without many strikeouts. The Twins struck out just four times on the night and balanced that out with four extra-base hits: three doubles and a home run.
- Marwin Gonzalez continues to struggle, although he is generally still having good at-bats and hitting the ball hard.
- Byron Buxton had a good game again but his at-bats have been a bit sloppier of late, with some of the same bad strikeouts that plagued some of the worst slumps of his career thus far. Here’s hoping he finds a heater and gets going.
- Martin Perez: 8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K
- Jorge Polanco: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, R
- Nelson Cruz: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, R
- Jonathan Schoop: 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, R
- Trevor Hildenberger: 1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, K
- Marwin Gonzalez: 0-for-4, 2 K