The Houston Astros silenced the home crowd early Tuesday in Minneapolis. A four-run first inning and a total of four home runs made it fairly smooth sailing for the visitors and a rough day for Twins starter Sonny Gray.
Now the Astros will look to clinch their ticket to yet another ALCS with a win Wednesday in Game 4, while the Twins will try to stave off elimination and send this series to a Game 5.
No. 3 Minnesota Twins at No. 2 Houston Astros, Game 3: Astros 9, Twins 1 (Houston leads 2-1)
The Astros’ bats roared out of the gate in a four-run first inning, and starter Cristian Javier did the work from there, as Houston secured a 9-1 win over the Minnesota Twins in Game 3 of the ALDS. With the win, the Astros take 2-1 control of the best-of-five series and face a chance to close it out Wednesday in Game 4.
Kyle Tucker got the scoring started with an RBI single off Gray in the first. Then José Abreu blew the game open with a three-run home run to put the Twins in a hole before they even had a chance to bat.
They didn’t dig out of it. The Astros chased Gray after four earned runs in four innings, and the Twins squandered several scoring opportunities in a difficult day at the plate.
The Astros tacked on another run via an Alex Bregman solo homer in the fifth and another still via a Bregman RBI single in the sixth. They really put things out of reach with home runs from Abreu and Yordan Alvarez that scored three more in the ninth.
The Twins plated their only run of the day when a Willi Castro single drove in Carlos Correa in the sixth.
The Twins can look back at several missed opportunities Tuesday, but none was more frustrating than the fifth inning. After Javier issued walks to Castro, Edouard Julien and Jorge Planco, the Twins had the bases loaded with one out while trailing 5-0. They ended the inning without scoring a run.
Max Kepler struck out looking on a high-arcing knuckle curve for the second out, setting up wild-card hero Royce Lewis for a chance at more heroics. The breakout rookie third baseman set a Twins record with four grand slams in the regular season, then hit two home runs in his first two postseason plate appearances in Minnesota’s Game 1 wild-card win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Even so, Javier got the best of him in this one. The Astros’ starter struck Lewis out on four pitches, including a swinging strike three on a slider well off the plate.
The Twins had stranded seven runners through five innings at that point. They ended the game stranding nine.
There are plenty of deserving candidates on a day that saw Abreu, Bregman and Alvarez each hit at least one home run as the Astros plated nine runs. But Javier earns the honors for a gutsy performance on the mound that saw him strike out nine through five shutout innings.
Javier struggled with his control a bit, walking five and hitting another batter. But he repeatedly worked his way out of jams. The Twins had two men on with one out in the first inning, then two on with no outs in the third and came away without a run both times. And that was before the bases-loaded dramatics in the fifth.
Game 4 begins at 2:07 p.m. ET Wednesday in Minnesota. The Twins will give the ball to Joe Ryan trying to extend the series to a Game 5, while the Astros, whose starter has not yet been announced, will be looking to clinch a spot in the ALCS.
Source: Yahoo Sports