Man, that storm that roared through town this week was frightening, wasn't it? Nonstop thunder and lightning, and plenty of damage in its wake.
The weather wasn't so great, either.
Hurricane Houston all but dismantled Target Field this week, the matchup of first-place teams reduced to a lopsided romp. The Astros outscored the Twins 21-3 over three games, held them scoreless in two and nearly hitless in one, and with a pair of thrashings on Thursday — 11-3 in the conclusion of Wednesday's rain-shortened rout, 5-0 in the regularly scheduled drubbing — left an already shorthanded team battered and bedraggled.
"The team certainly [looks] different than it did early on," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after a combined 15 innings of defeat on his first day back from COVID-19. "This is always going to happen when you're looking for a big swing. One guy is not going to carry us at this moment."
No, but it was notable that the team that seemed predictably desperate to get Carlos Correa back in its lineup was the Twins, not the Astros. Minnesota hasn't homered in 37 innings, since Jorge Polanco's winner Saturday, and they went 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position in Thursday's game-and-two-thirds, both of the hits coming in the eight-run loss.
"It was a tough day in a lot of different ways," Baldelli said. "We just couldn't get tight enough in these games to give ourselves a chance."
The first game was understandable, since they bequeathed themselves a 5-1 deficit during Wednesday's three innings. And the second game, that was Yordan Alvarez's doing. The Astros designated hitter crushed a Josh Winder fastball 414 feet over the center field wall in the third inning, then walloped a Cole Sands changeup 411 feet into the bullpen in the ninth.
"It's a really good lineup. They control the zone really, really well," said Winder (2-1), who hadn't given up an earned run in the first two starts of his career, but surrendered four (three earned) in 3⅓ innings Thursday. "I always view a less-than-stellar outing as a great opportunity to learn and refocus and fine-tune some things, and clean some stuff up. You've got to adapt and change and adjust."
With 11 players on the injured list, the Twins have done plenty of that, and came into the series on a 14-3 streak. The Astros showed neither regard for their résumé nor compassion for their wounded, piling up six runs on eight hits in a one-inning outburst in the conclusion to Wednesday's game, then putting runners on base in eight different innings in the finale.
But there were some encouraging signs, too. In the first game, the Twins added a pair of runs, one driven in and one scored by rookie outfielder Mark Contreras, who made his major league debut.
And rookie Yennier Cano "started" the partial game by retiring the first six hitters of his major league career, though things changed in the sixth inning, when Kyle Tucker lifted a fly ball through the wind and into the right-field seats.
Cano gave up two more hits before being lifted for righthander Cody Stashak, who surrendered three consecutive RBI doubles and a single, giving Houston six consecutive hits and firm control of the game.
Stashak, however, eased the bullpen's workload on a day with 15 innings scheduled, retiring the Astros without a run in the seventh and eighth innings.
"He was going to be pitching for a little while today regardless," Baldelli said. "If we didn't do that, we'd have used every guy in our pen and we would have everybody a little behind going forward."
"Going forward" may be the best part of Thursday's debacle: With Houston gone, the Twins' schedule for the next three weeks includes nothing but AL Central also-rans and last-place teams. After a three-day lesson in humility, the Twins can use a break.