Houston has lost three in a row

Astros drop third straight with extra-inning loss to Twins

Houston's offense couldn't get it done in extra innings on Friday night in the loss to the Twins. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Losers of back-to-back games, the Astros tried to right the ship on Friday night at home against the Twins in the second of this four-game set. After a couple of early home runs had them looking in prime position, the game would ultimately go to extra innings, where Minnesota would complete the comeback.

Final Score (11 innings): Twins 5, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 65-45, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Juan Minaya (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Rafael Montero (5-4)

Jones and McCormick homer Houston to a lead

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Houston put a runner in scoring position with a two-out double in the bottom of the second, setting up Taylor Jones for a two-run homer to start the scoring and give the Astros a 2-0 advantage. Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Chas McCormick extended the lead by another run with a solo blast, making it 5-0, heading to the fifth.

Greinke cruises early, then gets dinged

After cruising through the first four innings, the Twins were able to get to Zack Greinke in the top of the fifth. A leadoff solo home run cut the lead to two runs, then back-to-back singles followed to set up an RBI groundout later in the inning, making it a one-run game. They kept the pressure on Greinke in the next inning, leading the top of the sixth with a double, then tying the game with a one-out RBI single, knocking him out of winning position. His final line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR, 82 P.

Astros lose in extras

It was then on the Houston bullpen to give their offense a chance to get back in front. Ryne Stanek was first, tossing a scoreless seventh, followed by a 1-2-3 eighth by Kendall Graveman. Still gridlocked in the ninth, Ryan Pressly returned to the mound from his paternity leave and maintained the stalemate with a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts. After going down in order in the bottom of the ninth, the Astros moved on to Phil Maton in the top of the tenth to try and keep the Twins off the board by erasing the free runner on second. Instead, Minnesota would get their first lead of the game with a single to move the runner to third and a sac fly to break the tie, 4-3.

Houston responded, getting a productive out by Michael Brantley to move Jose Altuve, the free runner, to third to start the bottom of the tenth. Yordan Alvarez re-tied things in the next at-bat with an RBI single, but they would again come up short of a walk-off. Rafael Montero was Houston's next reliever but would allow an RBI single to begin the eleventh, putting the Twins back on top 5-4 before he would finish the frame. Minnesota held on to that lead, finishing off the win in the bottom of the eleventh to hand Houston their third-straight defeat.

Up Next: The third game of this series will get underway at 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Houston will try to end their losing skid and get back into this series with Luis Garcia (7-6, 3.49 ERA) on the mound, while the Twins will try to secure the series win with Michael Pineda (4-6, 3.89 ERA).

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1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.

10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

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