With both pitching and offensive click, Astros run 10-man winning streak

MINNEAPOLIS — The runaway train that are the Astros arrived at Target Center and toppled the Twins en route to sweeping a three-game streak, including a pair of wins on Thursday afternoon to lead their winning streak to 10 games, a peak of the season. It is the longest current streak in the major leagues.

The Astros had been getting some great pitching the past two weeks, but their offense started to flare up on Thursday. Houston had a season-high 15 hits and beat the Twins, 11-3, at the end of a game that was postponed after three innings Wednesday before getting a pair of homers from slugger Yordan Alvarez in a 5-0 victory in the second game.

“It was exceptional. It’s hard to win almost a double game — one game and two-thirds — especially on the road, in their house,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Our guys are hanging around a bit, but we had some really good throws and very timely strikes, especially from Yordan. We hope he gets hot like only he can. It feels good to start the road trip 3-0.

By winning 14 of their last 16 games, the Astros have passed the Angels to take the lead in the American League West. The pitching staff has posted a 1.82 ERA over the past 16 games, with 10 quality starts. That doesn’t include Luis Garcia, who pitched five scoreless innings in Game 2 on Thursday.

Remarkably, the Astros posted five shutouts during their 10-game streak, the first time they shut out an opponent five times in 10 games since the end of the 1986 season (six times). The staff’s ERA over the 10-game streak is 0.90, with nine earned runs allowed in 90 innings.

Not only are the Astros getting a dominating shot without an injured Lance McCullers Jr. — their top starter last year — they’ve had some unlikely contributions. They called up Triple-A Sugar Land reliever Seth Martinez as the 27th player for Thursday’s second game, and all he did was pitch 1 2/3 innings scoreless, eliminating the team. in sixth.

“Usually when you have a winning streak, you hit the ball a ton or throw a ton, or both usually,” Baker said. “I can’t take anything away from our throw. They throw very well. … Everyone knows we have good pitchers and play really good baseball.

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña leads the Astros with an average of .448 and 10 RBI during the winning streak, while Jose Altuve hits .333 despite going 0 for 5 in Game 2 on Thursday. The Astros haven’t lost since Altuve was taken off the injured reserve on May 2. Both he and Alvarez have homered four times in the last 10 games.

As a result, Houston outscored its opponent, 49-11, on the winning streak, which is its longest since an 11-game streak last June. Houston’s point differential was minus-4 heading into the streak; it’s now plus-34 for the season.

“We have a great ball club and we show up every day to win, and that’s what we did,” said Peña, who had three hits in Thursday’s second game before leaving in fourth. sleeve with discomfort in the left knee. “We put together some good batsmen, our pitchers dominated and we’re going to keep going.”

The Astros’ stifling pitchers have posted shutouts in three of their last four games.

Sunday against the Tigers in Houston, Jake Odorizzi (five innings), Cristian Javier (three innings) and Héctor Neris (one inning) combined on one hit to complete a four-game sweep. Justin Verlander had a hit in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s series opener against the Twins, who had just two hits in the first 17 innings of the series.

“They gave us a chance to win every game,” Peña said. “They’ve been dominating every game, they keep their hitters from not doing a lot of damage, and we’re just going to build on that.”

José Urquidy started Wednesday’s game and allowed a run in three innings before heavy rain forced the suspension. Four relievers finished that game Thursday, allowing one earned run in six innings.

Garcia was terrific Thursday, striking out a career-high nine batters for the second straight start. A 2021 American League Rookie of the Year finalist, Garcia has a 1.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in his last three starts, striking out 23 in 18 innings.

“We are doing a very good job and hopefully we can continue,” Garcia said.

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