After the Houston Astros went ahead in the ninth inning of the series opener against the Twins on Friday night, a Minnesota fan tossed an inflatable trash can from the stands into right field.
The Houston hitter standing at the plate was Jose Altuve, who was at the heart of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
The hot-hitting Altuve will look to homer in his fourth straight contest and fifth in the past six when the Astros face the Twins on Saturday night in the second contest of a three-game set in Minneapolis.
The fans in the Twin Cities displayed they haven’t forgotten Houston’s sign-stealing scandal during the Astros’ first trip to Minnesota in front of fans since 2019.
But the Astros got to place the lid on another victory when Martin Maldonado laced the tiebreaking double in the ninth and scored on Michael Brantley’s single as Houston recorded a 6-4 win. The Astros have won nine of their past 12 games and are 5-2 on a nine-game road trip.
Yuli Gurriel joined Altuve in going deep while Brantley was 4-for-4 and is 7-for-9 over the past two games. He is batting .413 (19-for-46) during a 10-game hitting streak.
“We are playing well, we’re doing it as a group and as a unit,” Brantley said after Friday’s win. “Up and down the lineup, we’re putting up great at-bats and our pitching staff is playing great.
“This is a long road trip but we’re responding very well.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker said his club was “operating on fumes” after arriving in the early morning hours following Thursday’s 12-8 road loss against the Boston Red Sox.
“Everybody was walking around starry-eyed early in the game,” Baker said. “You could see they were fatigued. The pros, the real pros, know how to reach back and get some energy when they need it and this team is full of real pros.”
Minnesota has dropped seven of its past 10 games. Josh Donaldson hit two homers in Friday’s game and has three over the past two games.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli’s team received solo homers from Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano and Donaldson to take an early 3-1 lead. But the advantage got away, and Donaldson’s second homer of the game tied the score in the eighth.
“It was one of those games that feels uncomfortable because you constantly have to shift your mindset from up a run to down to tied,” Baldelli said.
Right-hander Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.58 ERA) will be on the mound for Minnesota and looking to win his fifth consecutive decision.
The 27-year-old Berrios beat the Kansas City Royals last Saturday when he gave up four runs and six hits over six innings.
Berrios has issued just five walks in 31 2/3 innings over his past five starts.
Berrios is 2-3 with an unsightly 6.43 ERA in five career starts against Houston. Alex Bregman is 4-for-7 with a homer against Berrios while Brantley is just 2-for-15.
Astros right-hander Luis Garcia (5-3, 2.75) will be looking to win his sixth consecutive start.
The 24-year-old Garcia has compiled a 1.86 ERA during the stretch while giving up five or fewer hits in each outing. He has served up just two homers in 29 innings over his past five starts after allowing six in his first 30 frames of the season.
Garcia matched his career-high of eight strikeouts while beating the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. He gave up one run, three hits and walked two.
Garcia has never faced the Twins.
–Field Level Media