Alvarez hits a grand slam, but Astros drop second straight in Minnesota

Apr 8, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Twins third baseman Kyle Farmer (12) reacts with second baseman Nick Gordon (1) after hitting a three-run home run during the second inning against the Houston Astros at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Alvarez hits a grand slam, but Astros drop second straight in Minnesota

The Astros have dropped 5-of-6 after Saturday’s 9-6 loss to the Minnesota Twins. Both teams traded four-run innings early, but the difference in the game was Christian Vazquez’s sixth-inning RBI single, which broke a 4-4 tie, and then the Twins padded their lead with four runs in the eighth against Ronel Blanco. Luis Garcia did not factor into the decision after allowing four runs over four innings, and the Astros have now only had a starter pitch six innings in just 2-of-9 games this season.

Trading big innings early

The Twins jumped in front when Kyle Farmer, who won Friday’s series opener with a walk-off single in the 10th inning, jumped on a first-pitch cutter from Luis Garcia and sent it into the Astros bullpen for a three-run homer. Garcia retired the next two hitters after issuing a walk to Christian Vazquez, but he allowed a double to Carlos Correa, which moved Vazquez to third, and then allowed an RBI single to Trevor Larnach, but fortunately for Garcia, Correa ran through a stop sign put up by Twins third base coach Tommy Watkins and was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.

The Astros wasted no time answering in the third against Joe Ryan. After Jake Meyers flied out to start the inning, Houston loaded the bases on eight pitches, and Yordan Alvarez tied the game by launching the third grand slam of his career, 116 MPH out to right field. It’s the first time a Twins starting pitcher has allowed more than one earned run in a game this season.

Luis Garcia finishes strong after a rough start

Garcia needed 46 pitches to get through the game’s first two innings, and it didn’t look like he’d even finish the third. Jose Miranda singled to start the frame, but following a Nick Gordon lineup, Donovan Solano worked an 11-pitch walk, which put Garcia at the 63-pitch mark. With Phil Maton warming in the bullpen, Garcia worked out of trouble by getting Farmer and Vazquez. Dusty Baker allowed Garcia to pitch the fourth, which meant facing Byron Buxton and Correa a third time, and he struck out the side. He generated four of his nine swinging strikes in the inning, including all three on his four-seam fastball.

Offense falls silent after the grand slam until the ninth

Joe Ryan retired the next two Astros after giving up the grand slam to Alvarez to end the third inning, and he followed that up by getting the final nine men he faced on the day, and the Twins bullpen was dominant behind him. Jorge Lopez struck out the side in the seventh, Griffin Jax fanned a pair in a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Minnesota scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth to blow the game open, so Rocco Baldelli turned to Jovani Moran in the ninth. He recorded the first out of the inning before allowing a single to Jose Abreu, ending a run of 18 straight Astros retired, and then Jeremy Peña hit a homer with the Astros down to their final out.

Moran could not finish the game after allowing hits to David Hensley and Jake Meyers after the homer, forcing Baldelli to burn his closer, Jhoan Duran, but he struck out pinch hitter Yainer Diaz on three pitches to end the game, the 17th of the day for Twins pitching and 33rd in the series.

News and Notes:

•Abreu became the first Astro to strikeout due to a time violation in the second inning.

•Ryan struck out 10 over six innings. It’s the third time in nine games a starter has recorded 10+ strikeouts against the Astros this season. It happened five times in 162 games last season.

Injury updates:

•LHP Blake Taylor (elbow) has not been scored on in three rehab outings with Triple-A Sugar Land. He is eligible to be activated off the IL on Tuesday.

•LHP Parker Mushinski (back) was placed on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sugar Land

Up Next

The Astros and Twins will play the finale of their three-game series on Sunday afternoon, with Hunter Brown taking the mound opposite Tyler Mahle.

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