Bregman, Gurriel, Astros beat Twins 5-2 for 4th win in row
HOUSTON (AP) — Alex Bregman knows he doesn’t have to do too much in a Houston Astros lineup that also features George Springer, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
And that, he says, is what has allowed him to put together the best year of his young career.
Bregman hit three doubles and Yuli Gurriel homered for the second game in a row, leading Justin Verlander and the Astros over the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight win.
“Just having the guys that I have around me in that lineup allows me to just relax and try to put together a good at-bat,” Bregman said, playing down the fact that he’s leading the team in almost every offensive category.
Manager A.J. Hinch had no trouble raving about his 24-year-old third baseman, who’s in just his second full season in the majors.
“He’s just locked in,” Hinch said. “When that happens, he leaves very little margin for the pitcher to get him out. And we’re seeing that come pretty regularly for him.”
Verlander (14-9) yielded one run and three hits while fanning eight over seven innings.
Jorge Polanco homered off reliever Chris Devenski to begin the ninth. After Robbie Grossman walked, Roberto Osuna took over and gave up a single to Tyler Austin with one out. Gurriel then caught Max Kepler’s liner and stepped on first to complete the double play and give Osuna his 13th save.
“Obviously, if that ball went through it would have been extra bases,” Gurriel said. “So to be able to make that play was very, very important to win that game.”
The Astros got to Trevor May (3-1) immediately when Springer hit a leadoff single and scored on a one-out double by Bregman. Tyler White hit an RBI single with two outs to score Bregman and a short mound visit came next.
On the second pitch after the visit, Gurriel sent a ball into the seats in left field for his 10th homer to extend the lead to 4-0.
Twins rookie Kohl Stewart, who was born and grew up in Houston, took over for the second inning and pitched well in front of a large group of friends and family sitting behind the visitor’s dugout. He allowed just three hits over five scoreless innings.
“Kohl did a really nice job,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I was a little concerned about him with all the people he had here at the ballpark, but he made them happy.”
Verlander ran into some trouble in the second inning when Grossman singled before Miguel Sano and Kepler drew consecutive walks with one out to load the bases. But Verlander retired Ehire Adrianza before striking out Chris Gimenez to end the threat.
Sano was carted off the field in the inning after injuring his surgically repaired left leg sliding into second base. The team said X-rays were negative and he was listed as day-to-day with a bruise on his lower left leg. Sano had a rod inserted in his left leg in November.
“He was in a lot of pain,” Molitor said. “It kind of radiated down to the ankle.”
Molitor said Sano would be on crutches for a day as a precaution but that he was optimistic that he wouldn’t be out for “too long.”
Grossman, who previously played for the Astros, hit an RBI double with two outs in the third that made it 4-1. Verlander started rolling after that, retiring the last 13 batters he faced, with six strikeouts, before Ryan Pressly took over for the eighth inning.
Tony Kemp hit a bunt single to start Houston’s seventh and the Astros pushed the lead to 5-1 when Bregman hit his major league-leading 46th double with two outs.
Astros: RHP Charlie Morton (shoulder discomfort) threw a bullpen session before the game. If he feels good in the next couple of days, he’ll come off the disabled list to start against Boston on Saturday. ... INF/OF Marwin Gonzalez was out of the lineup after leaving Monday’s game with discomfort in his oblique and is listed as day to day. ... RHP Hector Rondon probably won’t pitch for a few days after taking deflecting a line drive off his right hand on Monday.
Stewart became the second pitcher born in Houston to throw five scoreless innings in relief at Minute Maid Park with his performance on Tuesday night. The other player to do it was Matt Albers, who was playing for the Astros when he did it on July 27, 2006.
Houston rookie LHP Framber Valdez (2-1, 1.26 ERA) opposes Jake Odorizzi (5-9, 4.41) when the series wraps up on Wednesday night. Valdez allowed just two hits and one run in five innings in his last start but took the loss in a 3-0 defeat by the Angels. Odorizzi looks to get back on track after losing his last two starts.