Astros pound out 10-5 win over Twins
HOUSTON — Brian McCann and Marwin Gonzalez slugged home runs as the Houston Astros produced another offensive showcase in their 10-5 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.
McCann capped an eight-run second inning and 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.
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.
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) suffered the loss for Minnesota.
Undeterred by the four-day break for the All-Star Game, the Astros pounded Berrios into submission in the second inning, 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.
After McCann greeted Twins reliever Phil Hughes with a three-run homer, his 11th home run of the season, to right field on an 0-2 count, the Astros led 8-1.
Berrios was charged with only two earned runs after a fielding error by Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco helped fuel the Astros' outburst.
Berrios issued three walks and allowed four hits while getting only five outs before he departed.
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.
Same swing for Sano
After hitting 32 total homers in the Home Run Derby on Monday in Miami, Miguel Sano didn't feel as if he needed extra work to recalibrate his swing for game action.
That's because, despite all those monster blasts on his way to a runner-up finish to New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge, Sano purposely kept his swing the same.
"I didn't change my swing in the Home Run Derby," the Twins slugger said Friday. "I had the same swing. I tried to hit the ball like in (batting practice). I tried to hit a couple to right-center and stop pulling. I didn't change anything."
Judge, who will face the Twins for the first time Monday at Target Field, was a different story, Sano said.
"I saw before the All-Star Game, when he took BP, he hit a lot of pop-ups," Sano said, dipping his back shoulder to demonstrate. "I didn't try to hit the ball real far. I tried to do a normal BP."
Sano's longest homer was 491 feet, and his highest exit velocity was 113 mph. Judge's 47 homers across three rounds included a long of 513 feet and a top exit velocity of 119 mph.
After participating in the 2014 derby at Target Field, Brian Dozier hit .174 with one homer and 11 strikeouts over his next 50 plate appearances the rest of the month.
Sano entered the break batting .224 with 26 strikeouts and a .666 combined on-base/slugging percentage over his past 72 plate appearances. That included three homers and just five walks.
Despite a shaky first outing for Triple-A Rochester on Thursday, 44-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon remains under consideration to start July 18 for the Twins against the Yankees, one of his nine former organizations.
"Pretty much as expected," Molitor said. "There was a little bit of rust. Command was fairly good. Maybe not as good as it needs to be for him to be effective to his highest level."
Colon, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings in his first outing since June 28 with the Atlanta Braves, threw 76 pitches and worked in a few changeups and breaking balls.
Pitching at the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs affiliate, Colon gave up four earned runs on two walks and four hits, including a solo homer by shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford, hitting just .216.
"He wasn't supported by particularly good defense, from what I understand," Molitor said. "It could have had a different outcome."
The only error assessed to the Red Wings was on an errant pickoff throw by Colon in the fourth. He issued back-to-back walks to start that inning, including one to ex-Twin Pedro Florimon, but rallied to strike out his final two batters.
A decision on what comes next for Colon should be made by Sunday, Molitor said.
Twins catcher Jason Castro returned to Minute Maid Park for the first time since signing a three-year, $24.5 million contract this offseason. Even though he played in Houston from 2010-16, Castro wasn't sure how to get to the visitors' clubhouse.
"I had to get D.J. (Pirson), one of the (Astros) clubhouse guys, to point me in the right direction," Castro said. "I figured my best shot was just to cut across the field to the other dugout."
As for Tal's Hill, the controversial ballpark feature that included a flagpole that was in play in deep center field, Castro said he liked it when he was catching and disliked it when he was hitting.
"It just depended what half of the inning we were in," he said. "It was a love-hate relationship for sure."
According to Fangraphs.com, the Astros have received 2.5 Wins Above Replacement from their catchers this year: ex-Yankee Brian McCann, Evan Gattis and ex-Twin Juan Centeno. That trails only the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants among big-league catching production.
The Twins rank 15th at 1.0 catching fWAR with that split evenly between Castro and utility catcher/emergency reliever Chris Gimenez.
Notes by Mike Berardino, St. Paul Pioneer Press