Houston falls to Minnesota

Garcia's winning streak ends as Twins even series with Astros

Luis Garcia's winning streak came to an end Saturday night at the hands of the Twins. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After getting a late rally to power past the Twins in the opener, the Astros hoped to keep that momentum alive going into Saturday's middle game to secure the series win. Instead, the Twins grabbed the momentum, putting up enough runs against Luis Garcia to even the series.

Final Score: Twins 5, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 36-28, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Berrios (7-2)

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia (5-4)

Garcia runs into trouble to end his winning streak

After three scoreless innings on both sides, Minnesota would figure out Luis Garcia in the bottom of the fourth. They started the scoring for the evening with a two-out RBI double, then knocked Garcia out of the game in the bottom of the fifth with another RBI double followed by a two-run homer to go in front 4-0. That snapped Garcia's streak of five straight games in which he recorded a win, leaving this one in line for the loss, hoping for his offense to bail him out. His final line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 84 P.

Astros launch a couple of homers but come up short to even the series

Blake Taylor came in from the bullpen as Houston's first reliever, finishing the fifth for Garcia, then returned for a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth, retiring all five batters he faced. Houston cut the lead in half in the top of the seventh, getting back-to-back solo homers by Kyle Tucker and Robel Garcia, making it 4-2 when Brooks Raley took over on the mound in the bottom of the inning.

Minnesota put one run back on the board against him, getting a leadoff double then later an RBI single. Raley would face four batters while getting two outs before being lifted for Nivaldo Rodriguez. Rodriguez issued a four-pitch walk to his first batter, then hit the next with a pitch to load the bases, but Michael Brantley would make a great catch to save some runs to end the inning and strand all three runners.

Rodriguez walked and hit another batter in the bottom of the eighth but had solid defense behind him again to get through a scoreless frame to keep it 5-2. That score would go final, though, as Houston would get turned away at the plate in the top of the ninth, evening the series and setting up a rubber match on Sunday in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game series between the Astros and Twins, as well as Houston's last game of the road trip, will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Framber Valdez (2-0, 1.47 ERA) will go up against Michael Pineda (3-3, 3.46 ERA).

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With the end of the regular season in sight, the Houston Astros host the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, coming off a huge walk-off 2-1 win against the Orioles.

Two players from the finale against Baltimore really stood out for the 'Stros. Jeremy Pena, who had a clutch double late in the game, and Cristian Javier.

Javier struck out 11 batters over 5 innings surrendering only one run, which was exactly what the Astros needed in possibly the most important game of the regular season.

Both Pena and Javier were critical pieces to the Astros title in 2022, and it looks like they're rounding into form at just the right time.

Javier's struggles have caused many to question who would be the team's third starter in the postseason, behind Framber Valdez and Justin Verlander. Let's put this to bed right now, it's Javier.

This should be everything you need to know. Let's start with Hunter Brown. Brown has given up 5 earned runs or more in 4 of his last 7 starts.

How about JP France? France has surrendered 5 or more earned runs in 3 of his last 5 games.

However, Cristian Javier hasn't allowed 5 or more runs in a start since July 3. Javier may only give you 5 innings, but that's actually pretty common for starters in the playoffs. Teams typically remove their starters before the third time through the order.

Prime Time Pena

While the power hasn't been there for Pena this year, he is swinging the bat much better of late. Over his last 30 games, he's hitting .325 while slugging .453. Pena may only have 10 bombs on the year, but he's getting on base and hitting plenty of doubles.

If these two can contribute at a similar level to last postseason, the sky is the limit for the 2023 Astros.

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