2020 American League Wild Card Series 3
|2020 American League Wild Card Series|
29 - 31 in the AL
|2 - 0
36 - 24 in the AL
|1||Houston Astros 4 Minnesota Twins 1||September 29||Zack Greinke (0-0) Kenta Maeda (0-0)||2:00 pm|
|2||Houston Astros 3 Minnesota Twins 1||September 30||Jose Urquidy (0-0) Jose Berrios (0-0)||1:00 pm|
Game 1 @ Target Field
|WP: Framber Valdez (1-0); LP: Sergio Romo (0-1)|
|Home Runs: none|
- Attendance: none
The Twins' long-standing postseason woes continued in Game 1 as they lost to the Astros, 4-1, in spite of leading for most of the game, extending their unenviable record with their 17th consecutive postseason loss. On the mound, it was a battle of aces, with Kenta Maeda facing off against Zack Greinke, with both pitchers having had plenty of postseason experience, some of it dating back to when they were teammates with the Los Angeles Dodgers a few years back. Maeda had had an outstanding season, but not Greinke, and the Astros' plan was to have him piggy-back with Framber Valdez, who had been the Astros' most reliable pitcher in an overall disappointing season.
Greinke was indeed wobbly, needing 79 pitches to get through 4 innings, during which he walked 3 and allowed a pair of hits, but still managed to limit the Twins to just one run. That came in the 3rd when Max Kepler drew a two-out walk and scored on a double to the right field corner by ageless Nelson Cruz. Valdez then came on to pitch the 5th, and he was so sharp that manager Dusty Baker decided not to give anyone else a turn on the hill. Valdez allowed 4 baserunners in those 5 inning, two on singles and two on walks, while striking out 5. The two walks were to the first two batters he faced in the 5th, but the Twins were unable to take advantage of his temporary wildness, and the hits only came in the 9th. For his part, Maeda, left after 5 scoreless innings, having like Greinke allowed 2 hits and 3 walks, but striking out 5 to Greinke's 1. A parade of relievers succeeded him, with Trevor May pitching a scoreless 6th before handing the ball to Tyler Duffey. Nursing the slim 1-0 lead, Duffey retired the first two Astros batters in the 7th but then allowed back-to-back singles to Josh Reddick and Martin Maldonado, the bottom two men in the Astros' batting order, before George Springer hit a sharp single to center to tie the game.
The score remained tied at 1 until the 9th when veteran Sergio Romo took the mound as the Twins' fifth pitcher of the game. He quickly put himself in trouble by allowing back-to-back singles to the first two batters, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. However, Reddick popped out to third base and Maldonado flied out to left, with the runners unable to advance. Next up was Springer who hit a routine ground ball to SS Jorge Polanco, but his throw to second base was wild. Polanco was charged with an error and the bases were now loaded. Romo then walked Jose Altuve to force in the go-ahead run and Caleb Thielbar allowed a single to Michael Brantley that drove in two more unearned runs for a 4-1 lead. Baker asked Valdez, who had yet to give up a hit and had retired the last 12 batters he had faced in order, to return to the mound to close out the game. He allowed one-out singles to Miguel Sano and Polanco, but the next batter, Willians Astudillo, pinch-hitting for C Alex Avila, hit a grounder to third. 3B Alex Bregman stepped on the bag to force Sano, then threw to Gurriel at first to double off the non-speedy Astudillo and the game was over.
Game 2 @ Target Field
|WP: Cristian Javier (1-0); LP: Cody Stashak; SV: Ryan Pressly (1)|
|Home Runs: HOU - Carlos Correa (1)|
- Attendance: none
The Astros did not announce their Game 2 starter until shortly before the game, settling on Jose Urquidy, who had the experience of starting a World Series game the year before. The Twins had designated Jose Berrios for the task a while back, and both young pitchers did well in their assignment, but ultimately, the Twins were unable to end their mind-defying postseason skid, extending their losing streak to 18 games with another loss, this one by a score of 3-1, as their bats were once again eerily quiet, against a rather unintimidating Astros pitching staff.
The Twins had a chance to get to Urquidy early, after Berrios had started the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the 1st, as Max Kepler drew a walk with one out, and Eddie Rosario followed him on base one out later on an error by 2B Jose Altuve. Miguel Sano then drew another walk to load the bases, but top prospect Alex Kirilloff, making his major league debut in this game as the Twins' starting right fielder, lined out to center. Both pitchers cruised through the next two innings and indeed Berrios did not allow a baserunner until he walked Michael Brantley with two outs in the 4th. But he then unraveled, walking the next batter, Alex Bregman, as well, and then allowing the game's first run on a single by Kyle Tucker. He retired Yuli Gurriel on a ground ball to end the inning, but the Twins now had to play comeback ball. Kirilloff collected his first major league hit with a two-out single in the bottom of the 4th, which also happened to be the first hit surrendered by Urquidy in the game, but it was without consequence. In the 5th, however, Marwin Gonzalez led off the inning with a single, and after one out, Dusty Baker called on reliever Brooks Raley. He walked Luis Arraez but struck out Kepler for the second out, then Nelson Cruz hit a double to left. Gonzalez scored easily, but Arraez was cut down at home. The Twins asked for a video review, but the call was upheld, and the inning ended there, with the game tied at 1.
In the 6th Cody Stashak replaced Berrios on the mound, and he retired the Astros in order. Cristian Javier took over for the Astros in the bottom of the 6th and caught the first batter he faced, Eddie Rosario, looking, a call with which Rosario disagreed, prompting home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez to send him to the dugout to reflect on the philosophical question of not questioning authority. Javier retired the next two batters on fly balls, as did Stashak with the first two men he faced in the top of the 7th. However, Carlos Correa broke the tie with a homer to center field, and this would prove to be the winning run. Jorge Polanco drew a lead-off walk to start the bottom of the inning, but he could not advance even 90 feet as the next three batters all flied out harmlessly. Trevor May got the Astros out in order in the 8th, although that was the result of two close plays at first base being overturned after a video review. But Javier kept cruising along for the Astros, just as Framber Valdez had done in Game 1. He walked Cruz with one out,, but then picked off pinch-runner Byron Buxton at first base to end the inning. In the 9th, closer Taylor Rogers was summoned by manager Rocco Baldelli, but he allowed an insurance run by walking lead-off man Brantley, then allowing singles to Bregman and Tucker without retiring anyone. Tyler Duffey took over for him at that point and limited the damage thanks to Bregman being cut down at home on Correa's grounder to 3B Gonzalez. Ryan Pressly replaced Javier to pitch the 9th, and he did what good closers do, retiring the Twins in order with a pair of strikeouts sandwiched around Kirilloff's liner to third. The Astros were moving on to the Division Series, having limited the Twins to 2 runs on just 7 hits over the two games.
- Brian McTaggart: "Astros sweep: 'We deserve a lot of respect'", mlb.com, September 30, 2020. 
|Major League Baseball Wild Card Series|