HOUSTON — The first one was a half-swing, a lazy fly ball, one of those Crawford-box specials that sometimes give the Astros’ home park a bandbox feel. Alex Bregman’s 94-mph pop fly traveled only 357 feet, so it hardly seemed fair that Joe Ryan’s 37-inning streak without allowing a home run should end on such a cheapie.
But Chas McCormick took care of that.
McCormick followed Bregman’s bloop with a 417-foot blast later that same second inning, and Houston turned those two home runs into a 5-1 victory over the Twins on Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
Astros righthander Brandon Bielak didn’t allow a hit until Royce Lewis’ leadoff double in the fifth inning, and Houston handed the Twins their sixth loss in nine games.
The loss was Ryan’s second of the season, and probably his worst outing so far, too. The righthander pitched only four innings, but needed 88 pitches to get through them. In addition to Bregman’s solo homer and McCormick’s 106.6-mph exit velocity two-run rocket, Ryan allowed two third-inning runs on two singles, two walks and a sacrifice fly.
Five runs allowed were the most Ryan has allowed in a game since last Aug. 31 against Boston, not coincidentally the last time he had given up two homer runs in a game, too. And it doubled the number of earned runs that Ryan had surrendered in May. Ryan, who had not allowed a home run in six straight starts, struck out six and walked three.
Cole Sands relieved Ryan to start the fifth inning and gave up a leadoff double to Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña. But he retired the next seven hitters in order, before walking Jose Altuve and Peña. Jovani Moran took over and threw one pitch, which Yordan Alvarez hit into an inning-ending double play. Griffin Jax pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
But the pitching wasn’t enough to overcome yet another frustrating night at the plate. The Twins went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position, and were held to fewer than two runs for the eighth time in May.
A Twin reached base with fewer than two outs in five different innings, and the Astros contributed five walks as well. But two double plays prevented the threats from becoming more serious. Only in the fifth inning, after Lewis broke up the no-hitter with a double down the left-field line, were the Twins able to get a clutch hit, in the form of a two-out single by Christian Vazquez.
The catcher, greeted warmly by the 34,604 in attendance as he received his World Series ring from Astros manager Dusty Baker, turned on a sinker well inside from Bielak and lined it to left field.