Fiers fans 11 in dominant performance
(c) Associated Press
Mike Fiers tossed seven strong innings and the bottom third of the Astros' batting order provided the offense in a 5-3 win over the Twins Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park. Fiers tallied a season-high 11 strikeouts on the way to his sixth win of the year.
Minnesota got solo home runs from Kennys Vargas and Ehire Adrianza but were otherwise unable to mount anything remotely resembling a rally against Fiers. Singles by Adrianza and Robbie Grossman accounted for the only other base-runners while Fiers was on the mound. Neither was able to advance past first base.
Norichika Aoki's fourth inning double plated a pair of runs, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.
Aggressive base-running by Jake Marisnick and Jose Altuve helped extend the lead in the seventh. Jake led off the frame with an 11-pitch walk that put Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson over 100 pitches, prompting Paul Molitor to summon Trevor Hildenberger from the bullpen.
Marisnick stole second without a throw and, when George Springer hit a bouncer to third, Jake waited for Eduardo Escobar to throw to first before making a mad dash to the next bag. The return throw to third sailed into the outfield and Marisnick jogged home with Houston's fourth run of the day.
Altuve followed with a double down the third-base line and stole third with Josh Reddick at the plate. When catcher Chris Gimenez was unable to handle the third strike and had to throw to first base to retire Reddick, Altuve sprinted home with run number five.
Chris Devenski needed only seven pitches to record a perfect eighth and Ken Giles got through a somewhat shaky ninth to preserve the win and pick up his 20th save.
The Astros tallied only seven hits with Altuve and Aoki leading the way with two apiece. Jose extended his hitting streak to nine games and raised his league-leading average to .350.
The Astros are back in action Monday night when they host the Mariners at 7:10 Central. Lance McCullers goes against Angel Miranda in the opener of a 3-game series between A.L. West rivals.
- Greg Thurston