FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Twins rolled out a nearly complete Opening Day lineup against the world champions Friday, stood back and watched the offense start rolling in.
They are still waiting. A trio of Astros rookies and one veteran mowed down the Twins for eight innings, striking out 12 without giving up a hit. But the Twins rallied to tie the game with two runs in the ninth inning when when outfield candidate Ryan LaMarre led off with a double off the right-field wall and Tanner English launched a home run onto the left-field berm.
The game ended in a 2-2 tie after nine innings, the Twins’ third tie this spring.
What’s the prize for hitting a dramatic tying home run? “He gets a smile on his walk back across the street, I suppose,” Twins manager Paul Molitor joked about the minor leaguer. “He’s a good little player. It was a good moment for him.”
That was about it for good moments for the Twins offense.
Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer each drew a walk, and Sano reached base when shortstop Alex De Goti booted a ground ball for an error. But the Twins — missing only their starting catcher from a plausible Opening Day lineup — otherwise went down meekly against Astros rookie righthander Rogelio Armenteros, who pitched the first three innings, and relievers Reymin Guduan, Joe Smith and Trent Thornton.
“The guy they started [Armenteros] kind of stuck it to us for the most part,” Molitor said. “And we’ve seen Guduan enough to know he’s nasty when he throws it over.”
Houston rode two J.D. Davis home runs to a 2-0 lead at Hammond Stadium but could add no more. Lance Lynn came out throwing nothing but fastballs — “I wanted to see if I still had it,” he joked — but then mixed in his other pitches in a promising four-inning start.
“Everything felt good. Just left one pitch up,” Lynn said.
Trevor Hildenberger gave up a Davis home run as well, in two otherwise strong innings. Ryan Pressly and Taylor Rogers each shut out the Astros, giving the Twins a chance to tie at the end.