Astros Come Back To Slaughter Twins
11-Run Eighth Shocks Minnesota

Beltran: Caps historic frame.
(c) Associated Press
Like the Americans at D-Day, wave after wave of Astros crossed the plate Monday in an 11-run sneak attack that the host Minnesota Twins didn't see coming until it was too late to stop it. When the carnage was over before a Memorial Day crowd of 24,472 at Bull's Eye Field, The Astros dropped a 16-8 mother of all bombs on the Twinkies to claim their fifth straight win and further extend baseball's best record.

Houston hit the beach early against Ervin Santana. Carlos Correa drilled his eighth homer of the year and Carlos Beltran, who finished the day with four hits, dumped a short single to left that was misplayed into three bases and then came home on a wild pitch.

Brad Peacock, making his second start, tossed four scoreless innings before it all fell apart in the fifth. Peacock gave up four runs and gave way to rookie Jordan Jankowski who gave up three more, including a two-run homer from Miguel Sano. Cheering deliriously, the fans watched the Twins build a 7-2 lead which they extended by another run in seventh on ex-Astro Robbie Grossman's solo shot.

That looked like a safe-enough six-run lead to let Santana sit after seven innings and 114 pitches. After a 15-inning marathon with the Rays the day before, Minnesota's bullpen was tired and had but few options sitting in their bullpen.

As their fans rested peacefully and contentedly, the Astros launched their ambush. Josh Reddick quietly started with a walk against Ryan Pressley. Next Jose Altuve walked and Correa slapped an RBI single down the first base line. Nothing to worry much about. The Twins still led by five.

Beltran beat out an infield hit and, one out later, Marwin Gonzalez spanked a two-run single to pull Houston within three. Pressley had left the building when Craig Breslow gave up an opposite-field single to Alex Bregman. Pinch-hitter Evan Gattis bounced into a fielder's choice that plated Beltran but gave the Astros two outs.

George Springer had a 2-0 count when the umpires called time and asked for the tarps to come out with Minnesota still clinging to an 8-7 edge. The Astros were most unhappy with this delay that took ten minutes and threatened to undo all their comeback mojo.

When play resumed, Breslow tried to sneak a changeup past Springer but he cracked a single to left to get Houston within one. Then Reddick blooped one to shallow right center that evaded a sliding Eddie Rosario for two runs that gave the Astros the lead.

That was all for Breslow as Twins skipper Paul Molitor brought in veteran Matt Belisle to try to get the third out. He succeeded but not before Altuve banged an RBI single and Correa walked then Beltran capped the rally with a three-run homer to right, completing the 11-run rampage. The last time Houston tallied so many runs in one frame was 23 years ago against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Like a quality infantry, the Astros didn't rest on their 13-8 lead. Bregman attacked call-up Drew Rucinski in the ninth with a two-run blast and Correa chased home Jake Marisnick to complete the scoring. Houston notched season highs in both runs (16) and hits (18).

Besides Beltran, three-hit games were turned in by Correa, Altuve and Gonzalez who, incredibly, leads the club in both RBIs (32) and OPS (1.040) this deep into the season without playing a regular position.

There were times when the Astros could never win in novelty uniforms but now they have swept the Memorial Day weekend decked in various forms of olive drab and khaki. After the contest, in a search for lively arms, the Twins sent Rucinski back to the minors and the Astros sent Jankowski, Monday's surprise winning pitcher, back to Fresno. At this point, there was no word on whom the Astros would bring up as a substitute.

Yo-yoed starter Mike Fiers (1-2) will attempt to keep the Astros momentum going Tuesday night when he faces Puerto Rican righty Jose Berrios (3-0)in the 7:10 Central duel at the Bull's Eye. Fiers was pulled from the rotation but re-joined them a day later when Charlie Morton was shelved with a strained lat. The 36-16 Astros and 26-21 Twinkies lead their respective divisions but you'd never know it the way both clubs pitched the opener.

-Bob Hulsey