The Houston Astros will try to increase their winning streak to nine games when they play the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night in Minneapolis.
Houston is coming off a 5-0 win in the series opener Tuesday. Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and finished just five outs shy of accomplishing the milestone for the fourth time in his career.
Gio Urshela of the Twins broke up the no-hit bid with a single to right field with one out in the eighth. Verlander, 39, wound up going eight innings, giving up just the one hit, walking two and striking out five to improve to 4-1 and lower his ERA to 1.55.
“I have no regrets about throwing that pitch,” Verlander said. “If you’re going to give it up, that’s the way you want to do it. Opposite-field single. Nice hitting by him. Good pitch by me. Tip your cap and move on.”
The performance marked the latest pitching gem for the Astros, who have four shutouts during their eight-game streak. They have limited opponents to two runs apiece in the other four victories during the streak.
Minnesota will try to find a spark at the plate despite the recent injury absences of two top players. Carlos Correa went on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday because of a bruised right middle finger, and Byron Buxton has missed a pair of games because of a hip injury.
Despite missing Correa and Buxton as of late, Minnesota is 3-1 on its nine-game homestand.
Astros right-hander Jose Urquidy (2-1, 4.56 ERA) will try to follow up on Verlander’s masterful outing from the series opener.
Urquidy is coming off his best performance of the season in which he pitched six scoreless innings against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. He allowed six hits, walked one and struck out three, and he threw 60 of 91 pitches for strikes.
This will be Urquidy’s second career start against Minnesota. He allowed three runs on four hits in seven innings in his first meeting last June, but he finished with a no-decision.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26), who is looking for his first win with his new team. Archer joined the Twins as a free agent before the start of the season after pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates for nine seasons combined.
Archer has made five starts for the Twins. He has given up 16 hits in 19 1/3 innings, walking nine and striking out 20.
In eight career starts against Houston, Archer is 5-2 with a 2.15 ERA. He has 57 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.
Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena will try to stay hot at the plate after notching two RBIs in the series opener.
Pena’s success has not surprised his predecessor, Correa.
“He’s everything I knew he could be,” Correa said. “I know talent when I see it, and from the moment I saw him taking ground balls and hitting BP, when you look at his athleticism and his body, he’s going to be a superstar in this game.”
Minnesota is 11-5 at home this season as it looks for a bounce-back performance in the second installment of a three-game series. Houston is 10-7 on the road.
–Field Level Media