HOUSTON – For some reason, it takes time for the Twins to get started against the Astros. But once they do, they finish the job.
With their 10-6 victory Monday, the Twins have won three of four games on this Texas road trip and are now 4-0 against Houston, and both streaks have something in common: Twins rallies.
Monday, the Twins fell behind 5-1 after two innings, but outscored Houston 9-1 the rest of the way to post their third comeback victory against the Astros.
In four games this season, the Twins have been outscored by Houston 14-10 in the first five innings, but rallied back to outscore the Astros 13-1 from the sixth inning on.
Monday’s deficit was created by Andrew Albers’ worst outing of the season, major or minor league. He gave up nine hits and five runs while recording five outs. “I left a lot of balls up and a lot of balls over the middle,” he said.
But Anthony Swarzak rescued the Twins in relief with a 70-pitch outing, recording 13 outs — both season highs.
Since the All-Star break, hitters have batted only .199 against Swarzak, who has posted a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings.
Josh Willingham watched Chris Herrmann’s line drive whiz through the infield, turned to look at third base coach Joe Vavra, and began to run to third. Seeing the coach windmilling him home, he put his head down, hit third base going full speed, and hustled for home.
That’s when he noticed that Vavra wasn’t waving anymore.
“It’s tough to stop,” Willingham explained.
Willingham finally stopped a step or two beyond halfway to the plate, no-man’s land that instantly turned his semi-certain run into a textbook out. He took a futile step toward third base, then faced his fate by continuing home, where catcher Cody Clark waited with the ball, and applied the tag as Willingham tried running him over.
“I probably shouldn’t have stopped because I was too far down the line. As a baserunner, you see [Vavra] waving, you have the mindset you’re going home,” Willingham said. “It’s sort of both of our fault, I think” — Vavra’s fault for changing the sign a step or two late, and Willingham’s for not noticing until it was too late.
• Joe Mauer was scheduled to take swings off a tee Monday at Target Field, and he will take live batting practice Tuesday. So far, the catcher has had no relapse, the Twins say, so he could come off the concussion disabled list this weekend.
• Righthander Kyle Gibson has been shut down for the year, after reaching 151 innings pitched.