HOU 3, MIN 1: Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
Image courtesy of Chart via FanGraphsBox Score
Berríos: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: None
Bottom 3 WPA: Kepler -.128, Jeffers -.125, Rogers -.123
Jose Berrios came to play with his best stuff early. Through three innings, Berrios was perfect, and he only needed 29 pitches to get those nine very quick outs. Berrios made an excellent defensive play on an attempted bunt single by Kyle Tucker in the second. With the left-handed pull shift on, Berrios knew he was the only defender to cover that play, and he made it look easy.
After two more quick outs in the fourth, the Astros put together a two-out rally. It started with walks to both Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman, before a weakly hit ball off the bat of Kyle Tucker found a hole in the Twins shift, bring Brantley around to score the first run of the game. Berrios was able to get Yuli Gurriel to ground out to third to end the inning.
Berrios had another strong inning in the fifth. After surrendering a leadoff single to Carlos Correa in the inning, Berrios locked in and kept Correa from even advancing to second before getting out of the inning. Despite looking great through five, and only throwing 75 pitches, Rocco Baldelli decided that was enough from Berrios for the game, as he went to Cody Stashek in the pen to start the sixth.
The Twins bats found themselves in a very similar situation to yesterday’s game in the first toady. With two outs in the inning, they loaded the bases and appeared primed to strike early. This time, the batter was Alex Kiriloff, who was making his MLB debut in a pivotal spot in the Postseason. Kirilloff was able to put a good swing on the ball, but just missed it a bit and hit a lazy flyball out to center. Kirilloff came up again in the fourth and picked up his first major league hit on a 105 MPH line drive to right-field.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Twins bats were finally able to scratch across a run. Marwin Gonzalez was given credit for a single after reaching on what was a tough play for Jose Altuve at second. Ryan Jeffers then followed that up by striking out looking on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly out of the zone. Luis Arraez then drew a one out walk, before Max Kepler also went down looking. Now with two outs, Nelson Cruz came up big in an eerily similar way to how the Twins scored their lone run yesterday. This time it was a pulled double over the left-fielders head that bounced of the wall, and then back over the left-fielders head back towards the field. Gonzalez came around to score the tying run easily, but then Luis Arraez was nailed at the plate trying to score the go-ahead run to end the inning.
The controversy of the game came in Eddie Rosario’s leadoff at-bat in the sixth. With a three one count, Rosario drew what appeared to be a pretty clear walk. However, home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez did not see it that way, and called it strike two. Eddie Rosario was visibly upset with the strike call and had a few words with Gonzalez. Rosario wound up striking out on a foul tip a couple pitches later and let Manny Gonzalez have it. This led to Gonzalez ejecting Rosario from the game. Earlier in the game, it was Astros hitter George Springer who had words with Gonzalez after a missed strike three call. Here is the replay of both situations, so you can decide for yourself how they were handled by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez.
Just as typically the case with the Twins in the Postseason, once something bad happens, things start to go really bad for them. After Cody Stashak pitched a scoreless sixth, he appeared on his way to a scoreless seventh as well getting both Kyle Tucker and Yuli Gurriel out to begin the inning, before he left a hanging slider up to Carlos Correa and he did not miss it, sending it flying over the wall in left-centerfield, giving the Astros the 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Nelson Cruz was able to draw a two out walk, and was the pinch ran for by Byron Buxton. Jake Cave then came up, after replacing Eddie Rosario in the lineup, and put together a very good plate appearance, before swinging and missing at what was clearly ball four for the second out of the inning. Then with Miguel Sano up, and a chance to take the lead with one swing of the bat, Buxton got caught leaning and was picked off to end the inning.
Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the ninth inning for the Twins, to try and keep it a 2-1 ballgame. That move immediately backfired, as Rogers gave up a walk and two singles, and just like that the Astros had increased their lead. Tyler Duffey then came in to relieve Rogers, and did a great job not allowing the Astros to score any more runs. However, it was all for not, as the Twins went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and just as quickly as it started, the Twins Postseason was over.
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