Twins host Astros in battle of first-place clubs (May 29, 2017)
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins had just finished a marathon 15-inning game Sunday that lasted a Target Field-record 6 hours, 26 minutes when they had to turn their attention to Monday's game.
In less than 18 hours, Minnesota would be hosting a matchup of first-place teams as the Houston Astros come to town. The Twins began their preparation by making moves to clear space for more pitching.
Oh yeah, they had to get over losing Sunday's series finale to the Tampa Bay Rays in which Minnesota's scheduled Wednesday starter, Hector Santiago, ended up pitching the 15th inning and taking the loss.
"It's a tough loss, no question about that," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We always try to measure the ability of a club to be resilient. We'll find out here in the short term how we do with this one."
Minnesota, on top of the American League Central at 26-20, will have its ace, Ervin Santana (7-2, 1.80 ERA), on the mound for the Memorial Day afternoon game. Houston, leading the AL West with the best record in the majors, 35-16, sends right-hander Brad Peacock (2-0, 0.87) to the mound.
Peacock earned another start after throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings in a spot start against the Detroit Tigers on May 22. He struck out eight batters in the short outing, which was his first start of the season.
"He just did a really good job of pitching," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "He used all four of his pitches, and he competed very well. I always feel good when he's pitching. He's had a very good season. It just hasn't been pitching in the first inning this year."
Peacock is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota, recording 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Santana has had success against Houston: 3-0 with a 2.20 ERA in four career starts. He last faced the Astros on Sept. 5, 2015, when he allowed one run in eight innings.
Santana has been outstanding this season. He ranks first in the majors in opponents' batting average (.134) and ERA and is second in WHIP (0.83).
A long start by Santana would be a welcome relief for the Twins, but they will need more pitching anyway after using all of their relievers in Sunday's marathon game.
After the game, Minnesota placed right-handed pitcher Justin Haley on the 10-day disabled list due to right shoulder soreness and optioned designated hitter Kennys Vargas to Triple-A Rochester. Molitor said the team will bring in two pitchers before the Monday game.
"I think it's pretty obvious that there's something that needs to be done," Molitor said. "We just need to add pitching. There's no two ways about it. We'll make a couple corresponding moves tomorrow to make sure we give ourselves an opportunity to compete the best way we can."
Santiago will still start Wednesday, Molitor said.
Houston made a change to its rotation for the series in Minnesota.
Charlie Morton, who was scheduled to start Tuesday, was placed on the disabled list Sunday due to a right lat strain.
With Morton sidelined, Mike Fiers will start Tuesday. Fiers was removed from the rotation earlier in the weekend to make way for Peacock to start again.
The Astros won their fourth game in a row Sunday, beating the Baltimore Orioles 8-4 as George Springer hit a two-run homer.