Astros pound out 10-5 win over Twins
HOUSTON -- Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch wasn’t surprised by the ragged performance of his team or its opponent on Friday night and, despite an early lead that should have made for a relaxing evening in the home dugout, all Hinch sought was a victory to cure his uneasiness.
Brian McCann and Marwin Gonzalez slugged home runs as the Astros produced another offensive showcase in their 10-5 win over the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park.
McCann capped an eight-run second inning with his three-run blast while Gonzalez drove his 17th homer to straightaway center field as the Astros (61-29) added two runs in the third to extend to a nine-run lead. Houston clubbed both home runs off Twins reliever Phil Hughes.
The Twins (45-44) pushed back against Astros right-hander Charlie Morton (7-3) but got no closer than having the tying run on deck with two outs in the sixth inning. Hinch summoned All-Star reliever Chris Devenski to put out that fire and keep Houston comfortably in control.
”I didn’t like the way that whole game felt,“ Hinch said. ”Obviously, I felt really good at 10-1 and then it was slowly starting to deteriorate. They were getting a lot of baserunners; they stranded a lot of baserunners (11). It just wasn’t worth not going to our guys.
“(Luke) Gregerson hadn’t pitched in a while and (Ken) Giles hasn’t pitched a ton the last two weeks. I just wanted the game to end so I used our best guys (in the eighth and ninth innings).”
Gonzalez finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran both were 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored for Houston, which has won nine of 12 games.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier produced his 21st career leadoff home run, a club record, and finished 2-for-5 with four RBIs. He added a two-out, bases-clearing double in the fourth.
Right-hander Jose Berrios (8-3) was pulled in the second and suffered the loss for Minnesota.
“It just seemed from the get-go for whatever reason he looked uncomfortable,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of Berrios. “He had trouble getting settled in.”
Undeterred by the four-day break for the All-Star Game, the Astros pounded Berrios into submission in the second, with six consecutive batters reaching base to erase a 1-0 deficit.
Gonzalez, Alex Bregman and George Springer had run-scoring hits in succession for a 3-1 lead. Altuve walked and Josh Reddick added a sacrifice fly before Carlos Correa delivered an RBI single to center that chased Berrios and pushed the Houston advantage to 5-1 with two outs.
“I understand that they are in first place in the division and that they’re really hot right now. But that doesn’t mean you don’t follow your game plan,” Berrios said. “Obviously, they were ahead in most of the counts and that’s how they were able to get to me early.”
After McCann greeted Hughes with his 11th home run, a shot to right field on an 0-2 count, the Astros led 8-1.
“It’s just one of those things where this team is different,” McCann said. “It’s different because everyone shows up on a daily basis and everyone in here loves baseball. It has been a pleasure.”
Berrios was charged with only two earned runs after a fielding error by Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco helped fuel the Astros’ outburst. He issued three walks and allowed four hits while notching five outs before departing what was his shorting outing by a wide margin this season.
The Astros had their own issues with clean play, committing a pair of errors in the fifth inning. Morton recorded 10 strikeouts but also allowed five runs (four earned) and walked five batters.
NOTES: Twins 1B Joe Mauer took batting practice and is poised to be reinstated from the 10-day disabled list in time to start the middle game of the series on Saturday night. Mauer landed on the DL on July 7 (retroactive to July 5) with a lower back lumbar strain. ... Astros RHP Collin McHugh will make a fourth rehab start for Double-A Corpus Christi on Sunday and could rejoin the rotation on the next road trip in Baltimore or Philadelphia. McHugh (right elbow impingement) has yet to pitch for Houston this season. ... Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel (neck discomfort) completed a bullpen session on Thursday during a team workout and will continue to advance with his throwing program. A decision on when Keuchel might be ready for a rehab start should come this weekend, but a specific date and number of starts has yet to be determined. Keuchel has been on the disabled list since June 5.