Odorizzi, bullpen cool off Astros in Twins’ 4-1 victory
MINNEAPOLIS — Unhappy with himself after issuing five walks, Jake Odorizzi changed his approach and started pitching from the stretch in the fourth inning Tuesday night.
Minnesota’s new starter showed he can get himself back on track, even against the defending World Series champions.
Odorizzi grinded through six innings for his first win with the Twins, leadoff man Brian Dozier walked a career-high four times and Minnesota beat the Houston Astros 4-1.
Odorizzi (1-0) allowed a run on five walks and five hits in his first home start since being acquired from Tampa Bay in February.
“Pitching out of the stretch is something I’ve done in the past just to kind of simplify things, take the movement out of it and just pitch,” Odorizzi said. “Just little things over years that I’ve learned to try to get me back into sync because it’s not fun having no control and walking five guys.”
The Twins took advantage of Dallas Keuchel’s control problems to scratch across three runs in the first two innings. Keuchel (0-2) gave up three runs, five hits and four walks in four innings. He struck out six and left after 101 pitches.
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his second save.
“They did more with their walks than we did,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “Both pitchers had a hard time staying in the zone. They drew a lot of walks, we drew a lot of walks, they got a couple hits here and there. I think three of their walks scored, and they scored four runs. Tough night all the way around to lose the way we did.”
Dozier began the first with a swinging bunt and was called out when third baseman Alex Bregman made a quick throw to first. A replay review ruled Dozier just beat the throw. Dozier later scored on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Escobar, and Robbie Grossman doubled to drive in another run.
Joe Mauer had two walks and two hits for Minnesota. He drew a bases-loaded walk from Keuchel in the second. It’s the second straight start Keuchel has walked four batters.
“Under no circumstance do I feel like I’m out of sync or anything,” Keuchel said. “That’s the good news out of all of this — but very frustrating not being competitive early, especially in cold weather, letting those guys behind me not being able to play. You just stand out there in the cold. It’s just not competitive.”
Jake Marisnick had an RBI single in the second for the Astros, but Houston stranded six runners over the first four innings.
Odorizzi had all five of his walks in the first three innings. He gave up two hits in the fifth but picked off Bregman at first and got Carlos Correa to ground into an inning-ending double play.
“It was one of those nights,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We talked about it after one of the half innings that, you know, the good guys find a way to get through it and somehow he got through six even after struggling early.”
THE PLAN WORKED
Dozier said the plan going in against Keuchel was to force the left-hander to elevate his pitches.
“He loves you chasing out of the zone down,” Dozier said. “The guy stays down, down, down. Everything looks like a strike. He’s got such late movement, that’s how he gets hitters out. … I don’t think, necessarily, he was getting that call all the time like he wanted down in the zone. He had to get it up and two big walks there, but at the same time, a couple good hits.”
For the second straight night, the temperature was in the 30s. It was 39 degrees at first pitch Tuesday, four degrees warmer than Monday.
“I hate it,” Hinch said. “I hate cold weather. I hate playing baseball in this weather. But it is what it is. No baseball player in the big leagues will like playing in this crap.”
Astros: LHP Tony Sipp was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique injury. Houston recalled RHP James Hoyt from Triple-A Fresno. Sipp had been bothered by soreness for a couple of days and Hinch said he doesn’t expect Sipp to be out longer than the 10 days.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (finger surgery) met with team doctors and a hand specialist in Minnesota and was given the approval to start a throwing program. Santana will return to Fort Myers to rehab. . RHP Addison Reed was unavailable in the game because of an illness.
Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 3.48 ERA) will start the series finale Wednesday afternoon. McCullers took a loss in his last start, giving up three runs in five innings to San Diego.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.87 ERA) will try to keep his strong start going. Gibson has allowed one earned run in 10 1/3 innings through two starts.