Houston has lost back-to-back games

Astros drop opener to Twins on rough inning by Valdez

Framber Valdez's poor second inning gave the Twins a lead they wouldn't give up on Thursday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After dropping the second of two games in LA for the split with the Dodgers to end their recent road trip, the Astros returned home to welcome in the Twins for a four-game series. The opener would not go their way, as Minnesota would have a big inning, making the difference in the loss for the home team.

Final Score: Twins 5, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 65-44, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (7-3)

Losing Pitcher: Griffin Jax (2-1)

Valdez's poor second inning proves costly

Whether from getting into Houston in the early hours of the morning from Los Angeles or just general sluggishness, the Astros' offense did not look themselves in Thursday's opener. They had only two baserunners in the first five innings, a first-inning single, and a fifth-inning walk.

Jason Castro put Houston on the board with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the sixth, but by then, it mattered little, as the Twins had already done their damage against Framber Valdez. It came in the top of the second, a four-run frame for Minnesota on five hits to jump out to the significant early lead. Valdez rebound from that poor inning, getting into the seventh inning without allowing more runs to score. His final line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 107 P.

Astros drop the opener

As far as Houston's bullpen, Yimi Garcia came in to finish the seventh for Valdez, giving up a walk before getting a strikeout to end the inning. After him, the Astros leaned on Cristian Javier, who tossed the eighth and ninth, allowing a run in the eighth to make it 5-1. In the bottom of the ninth, still a four-run deficit, Michael Brantley legged out an infield single to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who promptly delivered a two-run homer to cut the lead to two runs. That's as close as they'd come, though, despite getting the tying run base, as the Twins would hold on to take the opener to hand the Astros back-to-back losses.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set will be another 7:10 PM Central start on Friday. The pitching matchup is expected to be Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.65 ERA) for the Astros and Bailey Ober (1-1, 4.94 ERA) for the Twins.

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MLB Network released their list of the top 10 starting pitchers in baseball this week, and two names were suspiciously left off. Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier are nowhere to be found on the list. Apparently, dominating one of the best lineups in baseball on the biggest stage means nothing?

Be sure to check out the video above as Paul Gallant shares his thoughts on the rankings.

Listen to The Paul Gallant Show from 10am-12pm weekdays on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 FM!

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