MINNEAPOLIS — Of the six pitchers Minnesota used Thursday, only one got a raucous cheer from the crowd.
He played shortstop for the first eight innings.
Eduardo Escobar relieved Taylor Rogers during a three-run ninth inning and, after giving up a single, recorded three straight outs in the Twins’ 15-7 loss to Houston in the first game of a split doubleheader.
The doubleheader was caused by a rainout Wednesday night in a game Minnesota led 5-0 in the third inning.
"(Manager Paul Molitor) told me not to throw it too hard, just to be careful, but at the same time I didn’t want to go out there and throw it too slow. So I put a little bit on it," he said through a translator.
Fortunately for Escobar, he didn’t have to face major league batting leader Jose Altuve.
The Houston second baseman got four hits, drove in three runs and scored three. Altuve has eight hits in his last nine at-bats, raising his average to .366. He is hitting .438 on the road.
"You can tell the way he doesn’t panic with two strikes. He just doesn’t have any fear of getting behind in the count," Molitor said. "Yet he can ambush you early in the count if you make a mistake too. It just seems like he has a good plan. He’s got great vision. You can see him looking around to see how we’re defending him."
Altuve wasn’t alone in battering Twins’ pitchers.
Carlos Correa homered as Houston got a season-high 19 hits and won for just the fifth time in 16 games. Marwin Gonzalez tied a career high with four hits. Doug Fister (11-7) threw seven-plus innings, allowing eight hits and five earned runs.
Kennys Vargas homered from each side of the plate for Minnesota.
Jose Berrios (2-3) was ineffective for the third straight start, lasting just two innings and giving up six runs and eight hits. Since his Aug. 1 recall from Triple-A, he’s allowed 12 earned runs in 13 innings.
In seven starts this season, the righty has a 9.32 ERA over 28 innings, permitting 39 hits and 14 walks.
"About as poorly as you could draw it up, really, when you’re looking for an outing that gives you an opportunity to protect the rest of your staff the best you can," Molitor said. "It’s not always going to happen, especially when you’ve got a young kid out there. He’s trying hard. Probably trying a little too hard."
Altuve hit an RBI double off the wall in right-center in the first inning and dashed for third base on the throw home. Catcher Juan Centeno’s throw to third sailed down the left-field line, allowing Altuve to trot home.
Four straight hits with two outs in the second made it 6-0. George Springer hit a two-run double, Alex Bregman had an RBI double and Altuve singled home a run.
Correa hit his 17th homer, a three-run drive off Buddy Boshers as part of a six-run fifth inning.
Boshers, who allowed six runs in 1 1/3 innings, was put on the disabled list after the game with left elbow inflammation. An MRI is planned for Friday. His ERA on July 20 was 1.38. Three weeks later, it’s 5.84.
Vargas snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a second-inning home run. He became the fourth player in team history to homer as both a left- and right-handed hitter in the same game with a two-run shot in the eighth off Tony Sipp.
"It’s good because I can show everybody that I’m a good hitter on both sides of the plate and that I’m really consistent on both sides of the plate," Vargas said through a translator.
Astros: Hinch said RHP Luke Gregerson "felt fine" a day after an aggressive bullpen session Wednesday. Out with a strained left oblique muscle, Gregerson is eligible to come off the DL Friday.
Twins: RHP Trevor May, put on the disabled list Wednesday with a lower back strain, was scheduled to see a specialist.
Houston’s Chris Devenski (0-4, 2.51) and Minnesota’s Tommy Milone (3-3, 5.23) will each come out of the bullpen to start the nightcap.