October 8, 2023

No need to pitch to Yordan Alvarez, Rocco

It’s time to walk Houston’s Yordan Alvarez every time he comes to the plate.

That might sound extreme, but Alvarez, who haunted the Seattle Mariners during last year’s postseason play, is up to his old tricks by hitting key home runs. He hit a two-run blast to give the Houston Astros a 3-0 lead, then squashed a Twins rally with a seventh inning solo shot to extend the Astros lead for a 6-4 win.

The Twins made it interesting. They were losing 5-0 when Jorge Polanco hit a deep three-run blast, followed by rookie Royce Lewis who hit a solo dinger, his third of the postseason.

The problem? Starter Bailey Ober and Kenta Maeda, now in a relief role, allowed five runs, and the lineup, as it often did during the regular season, had one of those games in which the clutch hitting disappeared and the strikeouts mounted. The Twins were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and struck out 13 times as a team. They have been here before.

Game 2 is Sunday. Pablo Lopez gets the ball.

Extra innings …

-Both teams had nine hits in the game.

-Astros reliever Ryan Pressly closed out Saturday’s game to earn his first save of the postseason. He pitched a scoreless inning on 16 pitches, including two strikeouts.

Before Pressly joined the Astros he was a member of the Twins for six seasons until he was traded to Houston for pitcher Jorge Alcala and outfielder Gilberto Celestino, a deal that has worked out much better for the Astros.

Pressly was used in a set up role during his days with the Twins, but in Houston he has been the closer and now has recorded 108 saves over six seasons in Texas.

Pressly had some good seasons in Minnesota as well, including 2018 when he appeared in an American League-leading 77 games. He struck out more than 100 batters in 71 innings for a strikeout rate per nine innings of 12.8. He also is a two-time All-Star.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.