HOUSTON — Welcome to George Springer Jersey Night, which will turn the crowd at Minute Maid Park even more orange than usual. There were several hundred fans already lined up outside the ballpark at least four hours before the game, so it’s a popular giveaway.
This ballpark hasn’t been particularly popular with the Twins lately, however. Minnesota has lost four straight games here, and nine of its last 12. They face Brad Peacock, Wade Miley and Justin Verlander this week, so the task doesn’t get any easier.
But it’s a new Twins team, of course, with a lot more power than the one that scored four total runs in three games here last year. For instance, these Twins are third in the AL in runs per game (5.6) and second in OPS (.850). The offense has been hot, although it’s fair to assume that Camden Yards and poor Orioles pitching might have had some thing do with it, right? “No, I don’t think so,” Nelson Cruz said, though he was smiling at the time. “Say it’s because these guys are strong, and we’re really good hitters.”
Done. It’s because the Twins are strong and really good hitters. Go ahead, you argue with Nelson Cruz.
Today is the first game back in Houston for Marwin Gonzalez, a hero of the Astros’ run to the 2017 World Series championship — there are banners all over the park proclaiming their slogan, “Take It Back,” by the way — and it’s the first time that Ryan Pressly might face his former team, too. The Astros are planning a video tribute to Gonzalez, and he’ll likely get a rousing welcome from the orange-clad fans.
Max Kepler has recovered from his weekend with the flu, and is back in the Twins’ lineup. Here are the batting orders for tonight’s game: