PREVIEW: Astros will look to solve Twins’ starting pitching success

Photo Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

PREVIEW: Astros will look to solve Twins’ starting pitching success

Right-hander Joe Ryan will try to build on an impressive streak for Minnesota starting pitchers on Saturday afternoon when the Twins host the Houston Astros in Minneapolis.

No Minnesota starter has allowed more than one run in any of the team’s seven games during the team’s 5-2 start this season. The rotation has allowed just five earned runs over 40 1/3 innings for an ERA of 1.12.

The Twins took the opener of the three-game series at Target Field, 3-2, on Friday afternoon on a bases-loaded single by Kyle Farmer in the 10th inning, but it was the pitching performance by starter Sonny Gray that had everyone buzzing afterward.

Gray struck out a career-high 13 batters over seven innings and allowed one earned run on four hits and a walk. Eight of the strikeouts came on a slider that had the defending World Champions off-balance all game.

“It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen him spin the ball,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “The reaction from the hitters, there were a lot of pitches that he threw that they missed by a lot, and they couldn’t even get a swing off on.”

Farmer, who played with Gray with the Cincinnati Reds in 2019-21, agreed.

“Unbelievable,” Farmer said. “That’s probably the best I’ve seen him today.”

Farmer was obtained in a trade with the Reds in November for minor league pitcher Casey Legumina and was playing his first home game with his new club. He grounded a single up the middle against a drawn-in infield against reliever Ryne Stanek to drive in Travor Larnach from third base for his second career walk-off hit.

“The pitching has been dominant,” Farmer said. “Sonny (had) a heckuva performance tonight. He had 13 strikeouts, and it was incredible. Really fun to play behind. Everybody plays hard behind him, and we just fed off him.”

Ryan (1-0, 1.50 ERA) gave up one run and three hits over six innings in his first start on Sunday, a 7-4 victory at Kansas City. He walked two and struck out six. However, he is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in his one career start against Houston, allowing four runs on four hits and five walks in a 5-0 loss on May 10, 2022, at Target Field.

The Astros, who had a six-game winning streak against the Twins snapped, will counter with right-hander Luis Garcia (0-1, 5.40 ERA). Garcia is 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA in four career starts against Minnesota, including 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in two starts at Target Field.

Mauricio Dubón went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored and Alex Bregman had an RBI single in Friday’s loss, which featured three wild pitches by Astros relievers, including a pair by Stanek in the decisive 10th inning.

Afterward, catcher Martín Maldonado, known for his strong defense, took the blame for the miscues, saying he had trouble seeing the ball in the shadows that covered the home plate area.

“I should have caught those pitches anyway,” Maldonado said. “I was expecting fastballs, and I missed both of them.”

“It was a tough day vision-wise, period,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “The only pitches they really hit were fastballs, and the pitches that we hit were fastballs as well. When there are shadows out there at that time of day, it’s tough to see and pick up any kind of spin because the ball doesn’t look white, it looks brown. Tough way to lose a game.”

–Field Level Media

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