In terms of boxing, the Astros went for the knockout punch early, but the Twins showed some fight. The Astros weren't amused, so they beat the Twins into submission with a 5-run fifth inning... and then got in a couple licks at the end just for fun.
Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. Fiers had a forgettable start. Luckily, the Astros offense made it very easy to forget. After a perfect first inning, the Twins started to hit the ball hard against Fiers. He made it through 2 unscathed, but gave up a 3-run shot to Brian Dozier in the 3rd. It's worth noting that Dozier's homer only traveled 350 feet to the Crawford Boxes and had an atypical launch angle of 41 degrees. It was a pretty strange trajectory, landing in the first row or two of seats. Fiers gave up one more run in the 4th on an RBI groundout by Danny Santana, but left in the 5th with 2 outs and men on 1st and 2nd. Giving up 9 hits, 1 walk, and 4 ER in 4.2 IP is nothing to be proud of, but the crowd at MMP still applauded as he exited, probably because he had at least pitched well enough to preserve the lead (which was 9-4 when he exited).
Now that we got that out of the way, the Astros offense had a night to remember. Altuve got things off to a great start with his 8th homer on the season. It was also the 5th time Altuve has led off the game with a home run this year, well on his way to Alfonso Soriano's record of 13 in a season set back in 2003. The offense never looked back from there. Springer followed by drawing a walk and then scored on Correa's double. Correa went to third on the throw home and scored on Rasmus' groundout to make it 3-0. Even the outs were productive tonight.
The Astros tagged Twins starter Phil Hughes for 3 more in the 2nd on a double by Springer that plated Castro and Altuve, and a bloop single by Rasmus that brought in Springer. The book was closed on Hughes after only 2 innings of work. The Astros had jumped on top 6-0 by the time Dozier hit his rainbow shot into the Crawford Boxes to cut the lead in half, but Castro answered quickly with a 2-run bomb to those same boxes in the bottom of the 3rd off Twins reliever Casey Fien to make it 8-3. After the Twins added a run in the top of the 4th, Correa broke his homer-less streak with a shot that sneaked into the seats in right field to make it 9-4.
With 2 outs and 2 men on, Fields replaced Fiers in the 5th and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. One swing of the bat could have cut the lead from 5 runs to 1 and a fly ball to left off the bat of John Ryan Murphy put a scare into the crowd at Minute Maid. Luckily, Colby Rasmus calmed their fears by putting it away for the 3rd out of the inning.
It's not every day that you score 5 runs in one inning. It's even more rare when doing that actually doubles your lead, but that's what happened to the Astros tonight. Gattis pinch-hit for Tucker to lead off the bottom of the 5th and liked the first pitch he saw, driving it up the middle for a single. MarGo drew a walk and Valbuena bunted to move the runners over (like I said, productive outs). Castro walked to load the bases for Altuve, who liked the first pitch he saw from the new reliever J.R. Graham and drove it off the wall of the bullpen in right-center for a 2-run double, missing a grand slam by a few feet. After Springer flew out to right, Correa singled to score Castro and move Altuve over to third. Rasmus walked to re-load the bases. Wow. Let's just appreciate that for a moment. We re-loaded the bases. Carlos Gomez then snuck a ground ball past the pitcher, but Brian Dozier was there to back him up with intentions of ending the inning. Enter BABIP luck. The ball hit the 2nd base bag and bounced off into right field instead of continuing on toward Dozier, allowing two more runs to score and putting Gomez into 2nd with one of the strangest doubles I've ever seen.
After 5 innings, the score stood at 14-4 and both teams agreed to quickly wrap up the game. The only problem was that no one told Jason Castro, who had the only hit of the game for either team after the 5th inning. He hit a gapper to right-center to score MarGo and Valbuena, who had both walked, and pulled into 2nd with a stand up double.
Castro had himself quite a night, reaching base in 4 of his 5 at-bats with 2 walks, a double, and a home run. Altuve and Correa weren't too shabby either, both finishing a triple shy of the cycle. The Astros scored 16 runs on 14 hits, going 6 for 11 with RISP, and made the Twins use 7 different pitchers for only 8 innings of work.
To top it all off, Hinch decided he was going to have a little fun too, so he only used pitchers whose last names started with "F". After Fiers' rough start, Fields, Feldman, and Feliz combined to throw 4.1 innings of hitless baseball.
So, could this be the great awakening? Is this where the Astros start to turn their season around? Only time will tell. For now, let's just enjoy this moment (and the countless highlight videos that come with it).