Jose Altuve walked with the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth inning to score in the winning run and Michael Brantley followed with a two-run single as the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins, 4-1, in the in the opening game of their American League wild-card series on Tuesday afternoon in Minneapolis.
It was just a continuation of playoff misery for the Twins, who absorbed their major league record 17th consecutive postseason loss.
Altuve's walk against reliever Sergio Romo (0-1) came after shortstop Jorge Polanco threw wildly to second baseman Luis Arraez on what would have been a routine inning-ending force out on a grounder by George Springer. That error allowed Yuli Gurriel to score from second base (Gurriel opened the inning with a single and advanced to second on a bloop single by Carlos Correa).
Caleb Thielbar then replaced Romo, and was immediately greeted with Brantley lining a single to center to drive in Correa and Springer, giving the Astros three unearned runs and the victory.
Framber Valdez (1-0) pitched five innings of two-hit shutout relief for Zack Greinke to pick up the win. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Wednesday afternoon.
Minnesota blew a chance to get to Greinke early when it loaded the bases with one out in the first on a single by Byron Buxton and back-to-back walks to Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz. But Greinke got out of the jam when he got Eddie Rosario to line out to first and Miguel Sano on a weak grounder to third that Alex Bregman barehanded and barely threw him out. The Twins unsuccessfully challenged the inning-ending call.
Minnesota then took a 1-0 lead in the third when Kepler walked with two out and scored Cruz's double to the base of the wall in right. It was the 36 th career postseason RBI for the 40-year-old Cruz.
Houston, which reached the playoffs after just a 29-31 regular-season record, tied it with three consecutive two-out hits in the seventh against Twins reliever Tyler Duffey.
Josh Reddick, who struck out with the bases loaded against Minnesota starter Kenta Maeda to end a fourth inning threat, started the rally with a single to left. Reddick advanced to second on an infield single by Martin Maldonado, and Springer drove in Reddick with a single to center -- as Maldonado was getting thrown out attempting to reach third to end the inning.
Minnesota's last postseason victory came on Oct. 5, 2004 in Game 1 of the American League Division Series at Yankee Stadium, when Johan Santana, Juan Rincon and Joe Nathan combined to blank New York, 2-0.
-- Field Level Media