HOUSTON – The Twins and Astros seemed to be traveling down the same path this season, two teams with poor starts hoping to find that spark to get going in the right direction.
That was before Houston forced them into a ditch and sped off.
The Astros found their home run stroke Wednesday night and powered their way to a 16-4 victory over Phil Hughes and his teammates at Minute Maid Park. It was the most runs scored against the Twins this season and the biggest loss ever to the Astros.
Houston, which hit three home runs Wednesday, won back-to-back games for the first time this season while kicking the Twins out of town with a 2-12 road record. In addition, the Astros scored more runs Wednesday than the Twins have scored in any series this year.
The Twins head to Chicago 4-11 over their past 15 games, trying to dig themselves out of a deepening hole.
“Disappointing, like a lot of series have been,” said Twins manager Paul Molitor, who, along with reliever Ryan Pressly, was thrown out in the eighth inning as Pressly steamed over ball-strike calls. “You win the first game, then you go back-to-back games and you don’t get 10 outs out of your starters in two games, if my math is right. It just put a lot of stress on our bullpen.”
The Twins now head to Chicago to take on the White Sox — who have lined up Mat Latos (4-0), Chris Sale (6-0) and Jose Quintana (4-1) to greet them.
Houston, a wild-card team out of the AL West last season, overcame a 2-0 deficit to win Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, the Astros handed Hughes his shortest outing in 63 starts for the Twins. Hughes lasted two innings while giving up six runs.
The Astros rubbed it in the Twins’ faces in more ways. Carlos Correa drew two walks in the first game, delivered an RBI double in the second and Wednesday hit an RBI double in the first inning and a solo home run in the second. Houston took Correa with the first overall pick in 2012. The Twins selected Byron Buxton with the next pick.
Correa was rookie of the year last season and has become the Astros’ No. 3 hitter; the Twins had to send Buxton down to the minors April 25 to find his game.
Hughes wasn’t sharp early. Five pitches into the game, the Twins were down 1-0 after a Jose Altuve leadoff homer — already his fifth leadoff homer this season. Houston led 3-0 after one inning.
The Astros scored three more runs in the second, and Hughes (1-5) was done.
“You at least want to eat up some innings for the bullpen, and I couldn’t even do that tonight,” Hughes said. “All-around frustrating game.”
The Twins tried to show some spunk when Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer to left in the third inning to make it 6-3, but Jason Castro clubbed a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put Houston up 8-3. When the Twins scored in the fourth to make it 8-4, Correa homered in the bottom of the fifth to make it 9-4.
Ryan O’Rourke started the fifth by loading the bases with one out, and he was lifted for J.R. Graham, who was just called up from Class AAA Rochester. Altuve jacked Graham’s first pitch off the wall in right-center, and two runs scored to make it 11-4.
By the end of the inning, Houston led 14-4. The Astros added two more runs in the eighth.
“They scored the first five innings in the game,” Molitor said. “We tried to cut into it, but we left the bases loaded when [John Ryan] Murphy flew out [in the fifth]. After that, we didn’t have much of a chance.”