- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - This wasn’t the way Hector Santiago wanted to start out with his new team.

Acquired by Minnesota from the Los Angeles Angels at the Aug. 1 trade deadline, Santiago lost in his Twins debut last week. His first outing at his new home ballpark didn’t go much better.

Santiago gave up five runs - four earned - in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday night as the Twins were beaten 7-5 by the Houston Astros. The left-hander is 0-2 with Minnesota after going 10-4 in 22 starts for the Angels this season.

“The last four days we’ve been kind of working on something different, just trying to be in the zone as much as I can,” Santiago said. “The big adjustments that we made in those three days, four days between starts, that obviously showed today.”

In his first outing with the Twins, Santiago needed 99 pitches to get through five innings. He threw 83 pitches before he was lifted Tuesday.

Like a lot of other pitchers, Santiago (10-6) had trouble getting Jose Altuve out. Altuve, who sat out Monday for the first time since June 15 last year, went 4 for 4 and scored two runs.

Three of those four hits came off Santiago, all singles up the middle.

“You just try to throw it up there, make a good pitch and hopefully he can hit it at somebody,” Santiago said. “It just seems that every time he hits the ball, it’s somewhere where nobody is at.”

The Twins hit consecutive homers off Astros starter Mike Fiers in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead. Robbie Grossman hit a two-run shot and Brian Dozier followed with his 23rd of the year.

It was the 10th time this season Minnesota went back-to-back, the third-most in team history.

Miguel Sano also homered off Fiers when he sent the first pitch he saw in the second inning into the seats in left field. It was Sano’s 19th of the season.

But Santiago ran into trouble in the sixth as Houston scored three times to take a 5-4 lead.

“Hector, after the two-run homer in the first, settled in pretty nicely,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He did a nice job of keeping his pitch count down, which has been kind of a battle for him, and we got the home runs to supply our offense, but we certainly missed out on opportunities to execute.”

Even though Fiers (8-5) gave up three home runs - he allowed four total in his previous eight starts - he benefited from a good night at the plate from his offense. Fiers entered ranked fifth in the American League in run support (6.75 runs per game).

Carlos Correa drove in four runs, including a first-inning homer with Altuve on base. That snapped a drought of seven straight games for the Astros without a home run.

Ken Giles allowed a run in the ninth but earned his second save.

The Twins went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

“This is all experience up here learning how to hit with runners in scoring position,” Grossman said. “This is different than the minor leagues. Guys have a better plan at how they attack you.”


Jorge Polanco didn’t play a single inning at shortstop during his 75 games with Triple-A Rochester this season, but the 23-year-old seems to be settling in just fine at that position with the Twins.

Polanco was again in the lineup at shortstop Tuesday against Houston and had no issues on anything hit his way. Molitor has been impressed with Polanco’s ability to move around the infield without skipping a beat.

“It’s different here because of the speed, both in terms of how the ball’s hit and where you play and who’s running the bases and all those type of things,” Molitor said. “I think that’s one of the things we’re trying to gauge where he’s at in terms of how he can slow the game down on the defensive side.”


Minnesota will send Ervin Santana (5-9, 3.62 ERA) to the mound in the third game of the series Wednesday. AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel (7-11, 4.56 ERA) starts for Houston. Keuchel pitched a three-hit shutout his last time out against Texas.

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