HOUSTON – Ryan Pressly has joined the defending World Series champion Astros and has given them everything they needed.
The righthanded reliever, traded to Houston on July 27, has produced a sparkling 1.23 ERA in 15 appearances since joining the team. He gave up a home run to Texas’ Rougned Odor in his Astros debut July 28 but has been nails ever since. He has struck out 22 batters in 15⅔ innings and has yet to walk a batter, including striking out the side Tuesday night.
Houston has options to close out games, so Pressly has been part of the bridge to the ninth inning, using his 96-miles-per-hour fastball and his breaking ball to shut down opponents.
“He quickly established himself as a guy that was going to pitch deeper in our bullpen in the leverage innings,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “Came in and got a lot of big outs. And that certainly gains the trust of me and his teammates. I can’t imagine he could be any better than he has for us.”
The Texas life suits Pressly, who was born in Dallas and grew up not far from there in Argyle. But it was hard to leave the Twins, who gave him a chance as a Rule 5 pick from the Red Sox before the 2013 season. He’s spent the week catching up with Twins pitching coach Garvin Alston, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado and former teammates.
“Being there as long as I was, saying bye to everyone was tough,” Pressly said. “But it worked out for the best.”
More than joining a new team and being in first place, he’s with Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Jose Altuve and others, offering him a look at what makes another team great.
“Seeing how they go about their routine,” he said. “You watch [Verlander] and how he gets ready for a game. Same with Cole and all the starters. It’s impressive. They still are talking about the game after they get done pitching, two days later after they get done pitching. They are trying to figure out how they can get better each and every time they get the ball. I’ve never seen people do that before.”
Oh, say can you sing?
Righthander John Curtiss has gotten rid of his high leg kick, which has allowed him to be more effective on the mound. And he’s eager to show it, now that the Twins have called him up for the final weeks of the regular season.
His voice is ready, too.
On Sunday, Curtiss performed the national anthem before Class AAA Rochester’s game against Lehigh Valley.
“[Rochester reliever] Jake Reed and I would sing along with the anthem singer every day,” Curtiss said, “and sometimes ‘God Bless America.’ So I was like, ‘I’ll just do it.’ The last game of the season. I asked their on-field people, and they let me do it.
“I really didn’t get that nervous until right before it, then I was like, ‘I don’t remember the words,’ but I did it. It was great.”
Curtiss wants no part of a Target Field anthem, however; he prefers to take the mound so he can prove he can pitch. He gave up three runs in two appearances, totaling two-thirds of an inning, during a call-up earlier this season.
He joins righthander Chase De Jong and infielder Gregorio Petit as the final call-ups from Rochester. De Jong and Curtiss pitched in Monday’s finale for Rochester — De Jong started and threw 61 pitches over four innings — so they weren’t available Tuesday.
• Not only players are being called up. Rochester trainer Chris Johnson will join the Twins this weekend and remain for the rest of the season. Minor league field coordinator Edgar Varela will join the club as an extra coach.
• Joe Mauer is the Twins’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who best represents the game for contributions on and off the field.