The Twins leave Houston with a series win, punctuated by an 8-2 victory over the Astros on Wednesday that featured not one bases-loaded scoring moment, but two.
And they were brought to you by first basemen “Donnie Barrels” Solano and catcher Ryan Jeffers, both of whom had two hits and drove in six of the eight runs.
The Twins scored their eight runs on 11 hits. They also were slightly better with runners in scoring position at a 5-for-15 clip and left 11 men on base. Although their clutch hitting was improved, they still struck out 14 times as a team. Joey Gallo and Eddie Julien struck out three times apiece.
The Twins now come home to play what I think is a key four-game series against the Cleveland Guardians. It’s an early test to see which team will dominate play within the division. Pablo Lopez gets the ball Thursday.
Extra innings …
-The starting pitching was again terrific as Minnesota native Louie Varland blanked the Astros on four hits across seven innings with a walk and five strikeouts. He also had good command, tossing 86 pitches, 66 for strikes.
-Closer Jorge Lopez, however, made another sub-par appearance. He followed Varland and could not record an out, plus he served up two home runs. Reliever Brock Stewart, who has been a revelation, followed Lopez and struck out the side in the eighth. Jose De Leon worked a scoreless ninth to close out the game.
-It was bean-ball city on Wednesday as five batters were hit by pitches. Houston pitchers hit three Twins and the Twins countered with two of their own. One of those was dished out by closer Lopez, who, if you haven’t noticed, has a fiery side to him. If somebody needs to get hit, I have a feeling Lopez is happy to fill that role.
-The Twins are 29-27. That’s not saying much, but I am feeling much better about this Twins team after Wednesday’s game because they played short-handed (no Buxton, Polanco, Correa, Larnach or Lewis) and yet found a way to grind out a win. They showed some heart, which is good to see.