Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Say it Ain't So, Joe!
Ryan has been the most consistent Twins starter, and his W/L record shows it. Tuesday was not his night, however, as the Astros got to him early and often. Alex Bregman led off the second inning with a rocket shot (94 mph, barely cleared the fence) to left for a home run. A few batters later, it was Chas McCormick and his .222 batting average's turn to inflate Ryan's ERA with a moon shot to the train tracks in left. 3-0 Astros.
The hits just kept on coming for the Astros in the bottom of the third. A walk to Jeremy Pena with one out, and a single by Yordan Alvarez put runners on the corners for Bregman, and he delivered again with a run-scoring single to left to put the Astros up 4-0. Two batters later, Jose Abreu came up with the bases loaded, and while he couldn't replicate Jose Altuve's grand slam mojo, he did plate another run with a sacrifice fly (that Max Kepler caught while leaping into the wall in right). The Astro lead ballooned to 5-0, and it stayed that way until the fifth inning.
Royce Lewis, Save Us!
In the top of the fifth inning, Lewis stepped up to the plate and unleashed a 104.1 mph double to left. What followed shouldn't surprise Twins fans for the most part. Max Kepler struck out. Michael A. Taylor hit a ground out. The stage was set for the newly "Champion Ringed" Christian Vazquez to find a way to break out of his season-long slump, and he found a way to deliver a small dose of hope back into the game.
The Twins Offense Stinks...Bad
The top of the sixth inning started out well for the Twins, thanks to some uncharacteristic defense from the Astros. Edouard Julien led off with a shot to second base, and Altuve booted it. Carlos Correa drilled a 15 foot squirmer down the third base line which wasn't fielded. Suddenly, the Twins had two on with no one out, and Byron Buxton strode to the plate.
One changeup later, Buxton hit into a 6-4-3 double play, and the hope meter decreased several notches yet again. Alex Kirilloff continued to get on base, however, and there were runners at the corners with superhero Lewis up at the plate. That walk chased Brandon Bielak from an excellent start, but reliever Phil Maton proved to be kryptonite to Lewis' abilities, and he struck him out swinging to end the threat.
Sands Saves the Week, Win or Lose
Out of all the predictions that were bandied about Twins Daily this week, a four-inning start by Ryan was not a common take. That's where the Twins found themselves Tuesday night, and luckily Cole Sands answered the call. After pitching only once in the last week, Sands found himself thrown into the fire against a hot lineup. He escaped the fifth and sixth innings without allowing a run, but left the game after walking two Astros in the seventh. Jovani Moran was the next man up, and one pitch and an Alvarez 4-6-3 double play later, the score remained 5-1.
The ability to eat up innings won't bring the win home today, but it factors into every other game this week as the Twins don't get another off day until next Monday.
A Double Play Kind of Day
The heart of the Twins order came up in the top of the eighth, with the team amassing only three hits in the first six. Julien led off with a bloop to right that barely missed Altuve's glove. Correa was first pitch swinging, however, and chopped a 6-4-3 to remove the threat. The string of that poor at-bat lingered, as Buxton walked and Kiriloff shot a single into right to put runners at the corners with two outs. This time Ryne Stanek played the role of kryptonite, and Twins fans were forced to reckon with the fact that Lewis can't win 'em all.
The Twins ended up getting six hits, limited the Astros to five hits, and managed to lose 5-1. That sums up Tuesday night's ballgame and the first third of this "Home Run or Bust" season quite well. Tough to watch, but a chance to redeem the series tomorrow.
The Minnesota Twins will look to secure the series win again in game three as they send Louie Varland to the mound. The Astros will counter with young right-hander Hunter Brown. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm CDT.
(Coming Soon, if available)
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