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Game Preview No. 136: Houston Astros vs Minnesota Twins

Déjà vu: McCullers Jr., Santana face off for the 2nd time this week

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Astros (74-61) vs Minnesota Twins (69-65) September 5, 2015 6:10 PM CDT

TV:Root Sports SW, MLB.TV
Radio: KBME 790 AM, KLAT 1010 AM
Minnesota Twins SB Nation Blog: Twinkie Town

Pitching Matchup:

RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (5-5, 3.21 ERA, WHIP 1.22) vs RHP Ervin Santana (3-4, 5.40 ERA 1.46 WHIP)

Preview:

Lance McCullers Jr. steps back onto the rubber for the first time this month. He twirled a solid game last Sunday, but ran into trouble in the 6th and 7th, giving up 3 earned runs on 4 hits in the loss. He's hoping to keep the flame of good pitching burning for the Astros after the 8-0 shutout by Collin McHugh, Joe Thatcher and Michael Feliz last night.

¿Oye como va? Muy bueno for Ervin Santana. He closed out an otherwise rough August with one of his best outings of 2015 Sunday. He scattered 6 hits and no runs through 7 innings with 10 strikeouts. The Twins hope Santana can continue his rebound from his evil ways and...wait....

Sorry about that, just had a...er...strange feeling... Anyway the Astros offense will go up against Santana this time revitalized with George Springer and Carlos Correa back in the lineup. Springer made an immediate splash last night, hitting a leadoff single to start the game and using his speed on a hit and run by Jose Altuve to put him in position at 3rd. Carlos Correa would then knock him in on a fielder's choice. Correa himself has been in a bit of a slump since returning Monday after a sore hamstring kept him out for 3 straight games. In that stretch he's been batting 3 for 16 with 4 strikeouts. When Correa, Springer and Jose Altuve are on, they just might be one of the deadliest 1-2-3 punches in baseball.

The Astros are not completely reliant on the top 3 in the order for offensive production. 7 of their 8 runs last night came off the bats of Colby Rasmus and Hank Conger. Conger hit his 10th home run of the season last night, a grand slam into the Crawford Boxes. Tonight he'll be joined by Gamebreaker himself, Marwin Gonzalez in the 7 spot and Preston Tucker in the 8 spot. Preston has been 1 for 5 since returning from his stint in AAA. Gonzalez is a home run away from becoming the 11th Astro to reach double digit home runs this season.

On the other side for the Twins, Miguel Sano has been challenging Correa for the American League Rookie of the Year award. He's gone 6 for 15 this past week with 3 home runs and 7 strikeouts. Sano will be in the designated hitter spot tonight. He'll be joined by fellow rookie and 2nd overall pick from the 2012 draft, Byron Buxton. He's been struggling, batting .189 with a .489 OPS. Much like the Astros, the Twins lineup is full of young guys that will strikeout quite a bit. Expect a lot of #whiffs from Lance McCullers tonight.