MINNEAPOLIS (AP)Martin Maldonado hit a go-ahead double in the ninth, prompting a fan to toss an inflatable trash can onto the field, and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 6-4 on Friday night.
This was Houston’s first trip to Target Field with fans in the stands since 2019, and the Astros heard a chorus of boos and chants of ”You’re a cheater.”
The Astros came into Minnesota last year and swept the Twins in the AL wild-card playoff round. There were no crowds then and, now given a chance to sound off, Twins fans made known their displeasure over Houston’s sign-stealing scandal.
”We’re focused on playing baseball, playing good team baseball and controlling what we can control,” Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said. ”I think we’re doing a great job of that. Offensively, I think we’re the best offense in baseball right now. So, it’s been fun to be a part of that.”
Jose Altuve and Yuli Gurriel homered and Bregman drove in two runs for Houston, which won for the fourth time in five games. Michael Brantley added three hits for the Astros, who are 29-17 since April 22 when they were 7-10 and at the bottom of the AL West.
Maldonado doubled to break a 4-all tie and Brantley added an RBI single.
Ryne Stanek (1-1) allowed a tying homer to Josh Donaldson in the eighth but earned the win in relief of starter Jose Urquidy. Ryan Pressly notched his 10th save in 11 chances.
Manager Dusty Baker said he could tell his team was fatigued after Thursday’s loss at Boston and arriving late to Minnesota.
”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,” Baker said.
Donaldson homered twice and Nelson Cruz and Miguel Sano also connected – all four Minnesota drives were solo shots.
The Twins have lost three of four. They couldn’t build any momentum from Thursday night’s walkoff win against the New York Yankees, when Donaldson and Cruz each connected for two-run homers in the ninth off closer Aroldis Chapman.
Matt Shoemaker (2-8), who was scheduled to start but was moved to the bullpen before the game, allowed two runs on three hits in relief.
”We believe he can go out there and get those guys out,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”It didn’t play out like that tonight. It’s one of those games that feels uncomfortable because you constantly have to shift your mindset as you go from up to down around to tied.”
CHANGE OF PLANS
Bailey Ober, the 6-foot-9 rookie made his third career start in place of Shoemaker. Ober pitched a career-long five innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and striking out a career-best seven batters.
Shoemaker was sent to the bullpen after surrendering 13 runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He got just one out while allowing nine runs, eight earned, in a loss at Kansas City in his last start. He has a 7.28 ERA as a starter this year.
”He’s going to be ready to go tomorrow when we call on him tomorrow because we may need him to be available tomorrow, and ready to pitch, too,” Baldelli said. ”I think that’s all part of being a reliever and there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s a different ballgame than being a starting pitcher, but I think he’s up for it.”
Astros: RHP Enoli Paredes was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder strain. Ralph Garza Jr. was recalled from Triple-A Sugar Land. … Baker said the reports on Lance McCullers Jr. (right shoulder soreness) were good after his Triple-A rehab start on Thursday. McCullers gave up one run on two hits in four innings, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (right hip strain) took a day off from playing on his rehab assignment at Triple-A St. Paul. Buxton worked out at Target Field and will be in the lineup for St. Paul again on Saturday. . RHP Kenta Maeda (right adductor strain and general right arm soreness) will make his return from the injured list and start Monday’s game at Seattle. . OF Alex Kirilloff was in the lineup after spraining his left ankle in Thursday’s game.
RHP Luis Garcia (5-3, 2.75 ERA) starts Saturday for Houston, carrying a streak of five straight starts with a win. He’s allowed six runs in 29 innings over that stretch. Minnesota will counter with RHP Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.58). Berrios allowed four runs in six innings but beat Kansas City in his last outing.
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