This time, the Astros entered unfamiliar territory, with their home-field advantage reversed in the American League Division Series as they faced the prospect of a motivated and hungry Target Field crowd.
They’re in a more familiar situation now, having completely overwhelmed the crowd with a 9-1 blowout victory in Game 3 and putting themselves on the cusp of a seventh straight appearance in the American League Championship Series. As Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez said, the goal hasn’t changed.
“It’s no different than when we came here,” he said. “We want to finish the whole series in Minnesota and not go home and play Game 5. That’s been our focus.”
But the Twins will do it again in front of a home crowd with 2022 Opening Day starter Joe Ryan against a less effective 23-year-old Houston right-hander, José Urquidy. One city – that’s where they pinned their hopes. Facing elimination for the first time in this playoffs. Urquidy does have plenty of postseason experience, having won the World Series three times.
“That’s the good thing about a five-game series – you give yourself room to lose two games,” Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “You don’t want to lose two games, but that’s what it is. We have one more game at home. I know our fans will come out in droves. And then hopefully we can get back to Houston on Friday.”
The Twins have shaken off the weight of history this postseason, ending an 18-game playoff losing streak and winning a playoff series for the first time in 21 years. What’s the use of having more pressure?
When does the game take place and how to watch it?
The first game is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:07 PM ET/6:07 CT and will be televised in the United States on FS1.
All series are available in the United States on MLB.TV and are subject to verification by participating pay TV providers. Games are available for instant viewing worldwide (except Canada). The complete game archive will be available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.
Who are the starting pitchers?
Astros: Jose Urquidy
Urquidy was limited in the regular season due to a right shoulder injury that cost him three months at Illinois, but he made up for lost time with one of his best performances in his final appearance. The right-hander made a late start against Arizona on Sept. 29, going six scoreless innings and contributing to the team’s key sweep of the D-backs. Urquidi appeared in the Astros’ last four postseason games, accumulating a 3.72 ERA in 12 games (15 ERA in 36 1/3 innings).
Twins: Jo Ryan
What version of Ryan will the Twins show up for on Wednesday? Could it be the one-time All-Star candidate who posted a 2.98 ERA in his first 15 starts before a groin injury hampered his effectiveness? Coming back from injury, will this be a slightly scaled-down version of the 3.82 ERA in six non-Coors Field starts?
Despite all of this chaos, Ryan was still inches away from 200 strikeouts (he finished with 197), and if there was one thing he needed to take away from the first half, it was that he struck out just two in 10 starts A home run capability spans from late April to mid-June.
Who is the projected starting lineup?
astronaut: Mauricio Dubón started in midfield in Game 3, but Chas McCormick is expected to return to midfield in Game 4. Astros manager Dusty Baker has said Michael Brantley will be the designated hitter in Game 4, which means Yordan Alvarez ) will be in left wing and Martin Maldonado will be behind the plate.
twin: The Twins have a pretty solid lineup against right-handed pitching, but Urquidy has been a pretty clear reverse split performer throughout his career — something that could make some of the Twins’ lineups Different opinions, especially since these tandem bats (Alex Kirilloff and Matt Woerner) have been among the Twins’ worst performers in the playoffs this season two games into the season , Minnesota’s right-handed volleyball bat had a strong performance against Franber Valdez in the second game.
With that in mind, don’t be surprised to see some unexpected faces among the starting nine.
How will the bullpen line up after the start?
astronaut: Despite knocking out the Twins in Game 3, the Astros still used Brian Abreu and Phil Maton for one inning. Abreu only shot 12 and Maton 15, so they should be ready for Game 4. Tight end Ryan Pressly and playmaker Hector Neris will also be fresh. If Urquidy can’t get deep into the game, starting JP France can provide length.
twin: With all hands on deck, the Twins faced elimination. Minnesota went to great lengths to avoid using a leveraged bullpen arm to finish Game 3, asking Kenta Maeda and Bailey Ober to play bridge to keep everyone fresh. At the first sign of trouble for Ryan, expect aggressive hooks from Louie Wallander, Brock Stewart, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielba and Joanne Dou Landau was ready to pitch earlier than expected.
astronaut: Reliever pitcher Kendall Graveman is battling right shoulder discomfort and is not on the ALDS list.
Who is hot and who is not?
astronaut: Alvarez went 6-for-12 with four homers, six RBIs and a total of 20 at-bats in his first three games of the ALDS. José Abreu had a great September behind him and continued the momentum into the postseason with two homers and five RBIs. Altuve (4-for-13) and Pena (4-for-12) continued to hit, but McCormick was 2-for-8 and should be back in the lineup for Game 4.
twin: Correa leads the Twins with nine hits in the postseason and was one of only three Twins to record a hit in Game 3 off Christian Javier and Co. With Correa’s three-hit, three-RBI performance in Game 2, he tied with David Justice for third most RBIs in postseason history (63) behind Manny Ramirez Si (78) ranked second.
While the Twins’ left-handed hitting lineup was stronger on paper, they didn’t show it in practice during the postseason. Against the Blue Jays and Astros, Warner was 0-for-8 with three walks and Kirillov was 0-for-9 with two walks.