Series Preview: Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins, August 28-30, 2015
The happy times return for the Astros. Houston has back-to-back series win over playoff-bound teams -- the Dodgers and Yankees. The Astros are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They now head to the Twin Cities to face the Twins.
The Twins have had a similar resurgence as the Astros this season as they too have called up a plethora of young talent. Highlighted by the call up second-overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Byron Buxton. Buxton was the odds on favorite to be selected by the Astros heading into the draft. But, the Astros surprised everyone by passing on Buxton and Mark Appel (who they would later select in the 2013 draft) for Carlos Correa.
Correa has been everything the Astros could have wanted out of their 20-year-old prospect. Correa is currently batting .278 with 15 home runs, 16 doubles, 43 RBIs, 28 walks, and 11 stolen bases. He is firmly in line to win the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year award if teammate Lance McCullers doesn't snag it from under him.
Friday: LHP Scott Kazmir (7-8, 2.39 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) vs. RHP Kyle Gibson (8-9, 3.96 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)
Saturday: RHP Mike Fiers (6-9, 3.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs. RHP Michael Pelfrey (6-7, 3.69 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Sunday: RHP Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (2-4, 6.05 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
The Astros now slot in Lance McCullers in a six-man rotation. That six-man rotation features Scott Kazmir in game one. After a 0.00 ERA month of July (2 starts), Kazmir came back to earth a bit in August with a 3.97 ERA in four starts. He gave up six runs over 5 1/3 innings against the Rays in his second to last start. But he rebounded with six inning of one run baseball against the Dodgers. Kyle Gibson has a 6.35 ERA in August over five starts. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three career starts against the Astros.
Mike Fiers makes his first since his no-hitter against the Dodgers this past friday, he threw 134 pitches in that start. Fiers is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA in four appearances (three starts) against the Twins in his career. Mike Pelfrey has been solid in August with a 2.83 ERA in five starts. But, he lasted only 4 2/3 innings against the Orioles on Sunday, giving up three runs on nine hits.
Lance McCullers returned to the Astros rotation this past week and returned to form. He dueled Clayton Kershaw to draw as the Astros beat the Dodgers bullpen late in the game for the win. He allowed two runs over seven innings in that start. Ervin Santana is making his 11th start since coming back from suspension. He has struggled in August with a 9.12 ERA in five starts.
I do these previews every week, and every week Jose Altuve is at the top of the list for the Astros hitters. This week is no different. He is batting .400 (8x20) in the team's last six games and has three extra-base hits and two RBIs. Evan Gattis has come alive, batting .364 (8x22) with four home runs and seven RBIs. Jason Castro has been a nice surprise batting .353 (6x17) over his last five games. Crush City is creeping back, the Astros have 10 home runs in their last six games.
Eduardo Escobar is the top man for the Twins right now, he is batting .350 (7x20) with two doubles and three home runs over the last five games. Kurt Suzuki is 5-for-15 with two doubles and four RBIs in his last six games. Miguel Sano is 8-for-25 with two home runs and six RBIs.
The Astros continue to ride their strong pitching to another series victory. They win two out of three from the Twins.