Altuve’s late dinger breaks game open, Twins lose 10-4
HOUSTON — After losing three straight games following tough first innings by his starters, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch thought his team was in for another long night on Tuesday after Wade Miley allowed three runs in the first.
But instead, Miley shook off his bad start to get on track and help the Astros end a three-game skid with a victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Jose Altuve hit a three-run homer and Alex Bregman added three RBIs in the 10-4 victory.
The game was tied in the seventh when Trevor Hildenberger (2-1) allowed a single to Tyler White before issuing consecutive walks to Altuve and George Springer to load the bases with one out. Bregman’s sacrifice fly to right field put Houston up 5-4 and chased Hildenberger.
Adalberto Mejia took over and the Astros added an insurance run on an RBI single by Michael Brantley. The Astros turned a close game into a rout with a four-run eighth highlighted by Altuve’s ninth home run this season. All the runs in that inning were unearned because of errors by shortstop Jorge Polanco and pitcher Tyler Duffey and a passed ball by Mitch Garver.
Houston had been foiled by big first innings in a three-game losing streak with its starters allowing a combined 10 runs in the opening frame. The first-inning trouble continued on Tuesday when Eddie Rosario hit a three-run homer off Miley with one out in the inning.
But Miley didn’t let the game snowball after that, settling down to retire 17 of the next 18, including 15 straight after a double by Jonathan Schoop to start the second inning that gave the Astros a chance to get back in it.
“Feel a little snake bitten in the first inning,” Hinch said. “But we’re never out of it, obviously, and we came on pretty strong at the end of the game especially once they came back and tied the game. But let’s hope the first-inning issues end tomorrow.”
Miley, who was the first left-handed starter the Twins have faced this season, yielded three hits and three runs while striking out seven in six innings for his 21st straight start where he allowed three earned runs or fewer.
“He did a really nice job. He moved the ball around. He kept us off-balance,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “After putting together a nice first inning and jumping ahead, I think he looked like he felt pretty good out there with what he was doing.”
Hector Rondon (2-0) allowed three hits and a run in the seventh for the win.
Miley, who is in his first season in Houston, said that Springer told him in spring training that if he could keep it close when he pitches that the offense would always give the team a chance to win. And the lefty remembered those words after the first on Tuesday night.
“My job was just to try and keep it right there and we did,” he said. “We bounced back, put some runs together, put some big innings together and blew it up in the end. That’s what this team is capable of.”
Minnesota starter Michael Pineda allowed eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings as the Twins saw a four-game winning streak end.
The Astros cut the lead to 3-1 in the third on an RBI single by Springer.
Houston trailed by two with one out in the fifth when Springer hit a run-scoring double on a grounder down the left field line to get the Astros within 3-2. There were two outs when Bregman’s single to left scored two to put the Astros on top 4-3.
Houston’s pitchers had sat down 17 straight Twins when Schoop doubled off Rondon with two outs in the seventh. Max Kepler followed with an RBI single that tied it at 4-4. Byron Buxton singled and stole second base, but Brantley made a leaping catch near the wall in left field to grab a ball hit by Garver to end the inning.
Altuve leads the team and is tied for second in the American League in homers. He hit just 13 last season and his career-high is 24 which he hit in both 2016 and 2017. The 2017 AL MVP isn’t sure where his unprecedented power surge to start the season has come from.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I’m a little scared about it … it’s not me.”
The 5-foot-6 Altuve, whose home run landed on the train tracks atop left field, shook his head when asked about how far that homer traveled on Tuesday night.
“That’s all I have,” he said smiling. “Don’t expect any more than that.”
Twins: RHP Kohl Stewart is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start the finale on Wednesday. Stewart, who is from Houston, was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (3-0, 3.00 ERA) will start for Houston on Wednesday. Verlander allowed three hits and one run in seven innings of a 7-2 win over the Rangers in his last start.