- Associated Press - Monday, August 8, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - With their stagnant offense struggling the way it is, the Houston Astros can’t afford the sort of defensive mistakes center fielder Carlos Gomez made Monday night.

Tyler Duffey pitched six effective innings and Minnesota took advantage of two misplays by Gomez in a three-run fifth that sent the Twins to a 3-1 victory over Houston.

Gomez, the former Twins outfielder, let Jorge Polanco’s single skip by him for a two-base error that allowed one run to score. Then he lost a fly ball off Juan Centeno’s bat, turning it into an RBI triple.

Danny Santana followed with a run-scoring single, and Minnesota won for the seventh time in nine games.

“The first one was hit really hard and I missed (it) in my glove, and the second one, I (didn’t) know where the ball was,” Gomez said. “We lost the game because of that. I feel worse than anyone in this clubhouse.”

Collin McHugh (7-9) gave up three runs and 10 hits in seven innings, losing his third straight start. Meanwhile, the Astros have dropped 10 of their past 13 games and are averaging 2.28 runs during that stretch.

“We didn’t lose because of defensive blunders,” McHugh said. “We lost because I gave up 11 hits, 10 hits, something like that. They strung some hits together, put guys on base and scored more runs that we did. One or two plays isn’t deciding the game tonight, that’s for sure.”

Duffey (7-8) permitted one run on four hits and struck out eight. Three relievers combined for three hitless innings, and Brandon Kintzler finished for his 10th save in 11 chances.

Eddie Rosario had three hits for Minnesota, which has come around after a dreadful first half of the season.

Minnesota finished the first half as the worst team in the American League. But since July 2, the Twins have gone 21-12 and lead the majors in runs, hits, doubles and triples.

“With 50 games, we’ve got to keep playing. Kind of enjoying what we’re doing right now, for the most part,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I think there’s a lot of energy, guys are having fun, a lot of joking going around, which is good as long as the focus is where it needs to be.”

Polanco, called up from the minors when the Twins traded All-Star infielder Eduardo Nunez to San Francisco, has hit .378 with six RBIs in nine games since being recalled.

“Those guys are picking us up,” Molitor said of Polanco, Rosario and Santana. “Can’t say enough about Polanco so far, just the quality of at-bats and what he’s doing for us.”

GOMEZ’S FUTURE

Gomez was 0 for 3, dropping his batting average to .210. Hinch wasn’t sure about Gomez’s playing time going forward and said the outfielder wouldn’t be in the lineup on Tuesday.

“Obviously, I’ll take a look at it and see how it goes,” Hinch said. “We’ve been pretty beat up in a lot of ways and you keep trying to hang in there with guys. You want to encourage, more than anything. Clearly, it’s been a rough patch for him for a while.”

GURRIEL GOING UP

Houston moved infielder Yulieski Gurriel to Double-A as he accelerates though the minors. Gurriel, a highly coveted Cuban free agent who signed with the Astros on July 16, is expected to make his way to the Astros this season.

Gurriel was 6 for 14 (.429) with a home run and nine RBIs in four games at Class A Lancaster.

“He’s definitely graduated past A-ball,” Hinch said. “He dominated that level. I think he’s in spring training mode. There’s no way to train for this game other than to play it every day. His body seems to be on the uptick. I know his bat speed is good. The reports have been very favorable of how he moves around the field defensively.”

Hinch said Gurriel would stay at third base in the minors. When Gurriel is ready, Hinch said rookie third baseman Alex Bregman could be a moved around to utilize his versatility.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: 2B Jose Altuve was given the night off, snapping the longest active streak in the majors at 202 consecutive games played. … Right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson (left oblique strain) was scheduled to throw off a mound, and Hinch said Gregerson is “progressing nicely.” Hinch expects Gregerson to throw a few more times before being activated from the DL and said a rehab assignment likely won’t be needed. … INF Luis Valbuena (right hamstring) is back in Houston and has done some increased running, Hinch said.

Twins: Trevor Plouffe returned to the lineup after missing 32 games with a broken rib. Plouffe started at third base and went 1 for 4.

UP NEXT

Hector Santiago (10-5, 4.37 ERA) makes his first home start for the Twins on Tuesday night after the left-hander was acquired from the Los Angeles Angels at the trade deadline. Houston counters with RHP Mike Fiers (7-5, 4.34).

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide