It was over before it ever really began.
The Houston Astros scored four runs in the top of the first inning and never looked back, scoring again in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings to blow out the Twins 9-1 in Game 3 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday. It’s a huge disappointment because the Twins can no longer clinch the series at home, but instead will head back to Texas if they win Wednesday.
The great pitching and clutch hitting that the Twins showed on Sunday vanished in this one as the club did very little on the mound and at the plate, scoring one run on three measly hits.
Sonny Gray had a tough day. He allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits, including two home runs, with a walk and six strikeouts. It didn’t get much better after that. Kenta Maeda served up a run and then Bailey Ober got hammered, serving up two more home runs.
Twins pitching held a tough Astros lineup in check on Sunday, but they flexed their muscles on Tuesday. Yordan Alvarez — yes, that dude — had three extra-base hits, including a solo shot; Jose Abreu hit two dingers and drove in five runs; and Alex Bregman hit a home run as well.
Houston pitcher Framber Valdez had me worried, but the Twins took care of business against him. Instead, Tuesday’s starter Cristian Javier looked like the team ace as he one-hit the Twins over five innings with nine strikeouts. He also issued five walks, but the Twins did nothing with the free passes as they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
Grateful Dead fan Joe Ryan, who’s going to have to pitch the game of his life, gets the ball for Game 4 on Wednesday. Just remember: Jerry Garcia is watching from above, jamming and sending good vibes your way.
Extra innings …
-So, did Twins manager Rocco Baldelli make the right call by letting Gray pitch beyond his four-run first inning? No, he did not. This is the playoffs after all, so I would have removed him in favor of Kenta Maeda, who is coming out of the bullpen for that very reason: long relief.
-Baldelli — hell, all American League managers — have to decide whether they would pitch to Alvarez, who, so far this postseason, has six hits in 12 at bats with four home runs and six RBI. He is slashing .500/.538/2.025. There really is no reason to pitch to him. He is going to get his hits. I acknowledge that it’s a roll of the dice, but go ahead, walk him.