Houston Astros sweep away as Minnesota Twins lose 18th straight playoff game


MINNEAPOLIS – Shaken by scandal before the virus outbreak narrowed the season, the Houston Astros barely played well enough to reach the playoffs – with the rest of baseball actively rooted against them.Now, they’re not ready to go yet.

Carlos Correa landed a home run with two strikeouts and a tiebreaker in the seventh inning for the Astros, which produced another stifling throwing performance and swept Minnesota in two games with a 3-1 win on Wednesday. which sent the Twins to a record 18th after the season. loss.

“I know a lot of people are crazy. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here, ”Correa said. “But what are they going to say now?” ”

Nine months after the sign-stealing system was revealed and breaking Houston rules, the Astros moved on to the Division Series in Los Angeles. As the sixth seed, they will face the Oakland Athletics or the Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five game starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.

“I don’t think they necessarily thought they had anything to prove. They just had to play ball, ”said manager Dusty Baker, who took his fifth different team to the playoffs and advanced for the first time in seven rounds since winning the 2003 NL Division Series with the Chicago. Cubs.

The Twins are 0-18 in the playoffs since winning their Division Series opener at the New York Yankees on Oct. 5, 2004, a total of seven lost rounds. As of that date, the Astros are 43-35 in postseason play, winning 10 of 15 innings with three trips to the World Series.

Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and gave a key left field pitch for the end of the inning in the fifth.

Rookie Cristian Javier worked three scoreless innings in relief for the win in his postseason debut and Ryan Pressly threw a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston relievers box a 9-2 total. / 3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three shots allowed.

“Right from the start, we imagined ourselves coming back to the playoffs and playing really well,” Tucker said. “So we never counted each other at any time. ”

No one on this Twins team has been in more than six of the playoff losses, but for the second year in a row, one of baseball’s most powerful rosters limped through a brief postseason cameo. In a three-game streak swept away by the Yankees last year, the Twins totaled seven points and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they collected just two runs and seven hits.

“We put a lot of balls in play, it seemed like, but they were in the air and, yes, it looked like we played in their trap,” said Max Kepler, one of four starters to have gone without. success in the series. “In the end, we didn’t get the job done.”

Nelson Cruz gave the Twins an RBI brace for a second straight game, this time in the fourth inning against starter Jose Urquidy. Luis Arraez tried aggressively to score from the first goal, but Correa took Tucker’s throw and shot home to beat Arraez to plate to preserve the tie after third baseman Tony Diaz left the waved.

“I don’t know why he sent it,” Correa said.

Then in the seventh against losing pitcher Cody Stashak, Correa led a 1-0 slider in the tarp-covered seats above center-right pitch for his 12th homer in 52 playoff games.

After winning 101, 103 and 107 games in the last three regular seasons, winning the 2017 World Series and losing the championship in seven games to the Washington Nationals last year, the Astros have stumbled during the 2020 season at 29- 31 under Baker and new general. Manager James Click with a string of injuries after the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the schedule to 60 games.

They also had the third-worst road record in the major leagues, but none of that mattered this week against the third-seeded Twins, who were struggling in their two biggest games this year.

José Berríos was one of the few to be blocked with five solid innings to start, with just two hits allowed. Both of his rides were costly, however, issued just before Tucker’s single in the fourth.

“I don’t think anybody was ready to go, to end up this way,” said Cruz. ” It’s life. ”


Already absent from third goal Josh Donaldson, the Twins have retained another of their most valuable players: center-back Byron Buxton. Baldelli declined to confirm whether Buxton was experiencing a recurrence of the concussion symptoms that kept him out of the last two games of the regular season. Buxton was pulled from first base after a pinch of racing for Cruz in eighth.

Kepler moved to center and Alex Kirilloff – the 2016 first-round pick – played on the right ground to become the first Twins player in history to make his major league debut in a game after. -season. Kirilloff did a single in the fourth. With the bases loaded in the first, he took off to complete the round.


Both teams challenged home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez’s strike zone, with Astros slugger George Springer the first to visibly complain. After being called for strikes in the fourth, Springer barked, “No way, man! »Several times on the way back to the canoe.

Then in the sixth, the Twins lost left fielder Eddie Rosario on the ejection after playing a shot called two that would have allowed him to walk had he been called a ball. After swinging and missing on the third strike, Rosario shouted again and was quickly thrown.

First baseman Tim Timmons missed back-to-back calls in the Astros’ eighth inning on solers when he called the runners to safety. The two were reversed in outs after the replay.


The Astros, who have reached the AL Championship Series in each of the past three years, will play either the A’s or the White Sox on Monday. RHP Lance McCullers Jr. is the only member of their regular season rotation who hasn’t pitched in Minnesota.

The Twins enter the offseason with 10 players set to become free agents, including Cruz, 40, who has led the team in the homesteads and batting average (among players with qualifying number of attacks) for a second in a row. season. Their 2021 opening is scheduled for April 1 in Milwaukee.


More AP MLB coverage: https://apnews.com/MLB


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