Basically nothing looked right for the Astros on this frigid Minnesota Wednesday night. The bats went mostly silent, Collin McHugh made several critical mistakes, and the Twins bounced back from Tueday’s 11-0 drubbing to win one, 6-2.
Things looked promising at the start, though. The first two batters reached, with George Springer walking and Jose Altuve singling (which tied him with Bob Watson for sixth-most hits in franchise history). But things went south quickly as Alex Bregman flied out and Carlos Correa grounded into a double play to end the inning. That would mark the last time Houston had multiple batters reach in the same inning until the ninth, when all of their scoring happened.
Similarly, Collin McHugh looked sharp at the start of things, as he cruised through the first two innings in the minimum number of batters while striking out two. Things went south in the third, though, when Mitch Garver led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch and Jonathan Schoop followed up by hitting the Twins’ longest home run of the year. Things didn’t end there, as Byron Buxton singled and made it around the bases doing Buxton things, stealing second, moving up on a ground out, and then beating McHugh’s throw home on a Jorge Polanco infield single.
Buxton would score again in the fifth, when McHugh couldn’t quite get out of a two-out jam and Nelson Cruz singled through the shift to bring home the center fielder after his double. Cruz would also later double in Polanco off of Chris Devenski in the eighth and then come around to score on a sac fly by C.J. Cron, representing all of Minnesota’s runs.
All in all, it was a fairly rough start for McHugh, who allowed 4 runs on 5 hits and a walk while only striking out 2. He also hit 100 pitches for the first time this year, while tying his longest outing at 6.0 innings.
In comparison, Twins starter Martin Perez also threw 100 pitches exactly, but stretched them out over a much-more efficient eight innings while allowing only 6 base runners (four hits and two walks, one each coming in the first). Altuve doubled in the sixth to take sole position of sixth place on the team hit list at 1449 (Lance Berkman is next at 1648), George Springer and Jake Marisnick were both stranded after singling, and Yuli Gurriel walked with two outs in the fourth. But that was the entirety of the offense until the ninth.
The team seemed to have a better handle on Trevor Hildenberger in the ninth, but it was too little, too late. Still, Carlos Correa doubled to extend his team-best hitting streak to thirteen games, then Aledmys Diaz (making his first career start in the outfield) singled him home, and then Tyler White singled him home (marking his first RBI on the year). Unfortunately, Josh Reddick’s subsequent pinch hit appearance ended with a line drive right to Marwin Gonzalez at third, ending any hopes of a late comeback.
With the Mariners’ 11-0 loss to the Cubs, Houston remains a game up in the AL West. There’s one more game in Minnsota tomorrow afternoon, with Brad Peacock facing off against Jose Berríos, then a two game series against the Angels in Monterrey, Mexico. Both games will hopefully be much warmer than today’s.