Preview: Twins vs. Astros
Not even a late winter has been able to cool off the defending World Series champs.
At 11-2 following a 2-0 victory at the Minnesota Twins on Monday, the Houston Astros are off to their best start through 11 games since 1972. They’ve been flat-out dominant along the way, outscoring their opponents, 49-25, and will look to keep that going Tuesday when they continue their three-game series with the Twins behind left-hander Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 3.27 ERA) at Target Field.
The Astros were very rude guests during their visit to Minnesota last season, outscoring the Twins, 40-16, in a three-game sweep before going on to win their first-ever World Series title.
They took advantage of Minnesota’s hospitality again Monday, despite another chilly night in the Land of 10,000 lakes, where weather prevented the Twins from playing Sunday and the temperature has in the low 30s at first pitch Monday.
Keuchel, an Oklahoma native who played collegiately at Arkansas, said he’d be ready for whatever Mother Nature has to offer.
“Bring a parka and have a bunch of heat packs,” Keuchel said. “If you see me with my left hand in my pocket, I’m reaching for some warmth.”
Keuchel did not face the Twins last season but is 2-2 with a 4.05 ERA in four career appearances against Minnesota, striking out 21 while walking 10 in 20 innings of work.
He took a no-decision in his only appearance so far this season, holding the Orioles to two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks over five innings on April 4.
“I didn’t necessarily set the tone very well so that kind of contributed to the lackadaisical play,” Keuchel said. “But if we can scrape a win with how we played right there that’s a good sign. That means we’re a good team.”
Tuesday, though, might provide their toughest test yet.
Twins left-hander Jake Odorizzi has been dominant against Houston in his brief career, holding the to just one earned run in 19 innings of work, with a 2-0 record in three starts.
He’s struck out 24 batters in those contests without allowing a home run and his 0.47 ERA against the Astros is the best in MLB among all starters with at least three starts since 2014.
The only exception has been catcher Brian McCann, who comes into the game slashing .464/.531/.964 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 28 at-bats against Odorizzi, who spent the last three seasons with the Rays before a spring trade sent him to Minnesota as the Twins try to build on a surprising run to the postseason in 2017.
“For me, it has been a really good move in the sense of giving me that extra energy in that this is a playoff team and a playoff atmosphere,” Odorizzi said. “We need to be prepared. And this gives you a little extra energy when you need it.”
He earned his first-ever Opening Day start but took no decision in that contest — a 3-2 Minnesota loss — as well as his second outing, when he allowed three runs on three hits and three walks while striking out two over 4 1/3 innings in a 73 victory over the Pirates.