After the Houston Astros took game one, the Minnesota Twins fought back to split the two games in Houston and head back home with the series knotted up 1-1. With a huge game three hanging in the balance, let’s check out the odds for this game in the Twin Cities, where my prediction is for the total to stay under 8 runs scored.
Astros Vs. Twins Prediction
It would’ve been easy for the Twins’ spirit to break after a tough series-opening loss against the defending champs, but these are clearly not the Twins of old. Pablo López was absolutely magnificent as his legend continues to grow in Minnesota, he tossed seven shutout innings, and he allowed just seven total baserunners; he’s showing the ability to be a legitimate postseason ace.
The Twins have another ace up their sleeve, Sonny Gray. He chipped in with five shutout innings against the Blue Jays, en route to the Wild Card Series clinching win. He’ll be facing a much more explosive Houston lineup this time out, but he will be looking for the same result; a huge win that sets up Minnesota with two chances to win one game and advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2002.
The hero on offense in game two was none other than Carlos Correa, a World Series champ with Houston back in 2017. Once viewed as a centerpiece of the Astros franchise, and always a magnet for drama, he racked up three hits including two doubles and drove in three runs to help sink the team where he made himself into a star. By doing so, he also passed rival legends Derek Jeter and David Ortiz in career postseason RBIs, a remarkable accomplishment for a player who has yet to turn 30, when you consider the resumes of the Yankees and Red Sox stars. tThis postseason has been absolutely chock-full of shock twists and edge-of-your-seat types of storylines, but if Correa turns in a couple more big performances and knocks off his old squad, that just might take the cake.
Of course, the Astros are still the Astros, and as far as most fans are concerned, this series is theirs to lose until they do just that; officially get knocked out. After Framber Valdez decidedly did not get the job done for Houston in game two, the Astros will trot out another high-upside arm in Cristian Javier. He only made two starts in last season’s World Series run, but he was outstanding in both, as he blanked the yankees and Phillies in 11.1 total innings of work across those two appearances.
Javier had a brutal 2023, but leveled out a bit over the last month or so, and as so many Astros tend to do, he could absolutely step up and put in a great performance when the lights are brightest. With two seasoned postseason arms on the mound, we’re going to invest in the under. My lean is towards Houston, but the value isn’t there to bet with them on the road, especially since Minnesota realistically does have the starting pitching edge in this one.
Astros Vs. Twins Prediction: Under 8 runs (+100)
Astros Vs. Twins Odds
The Twins are very narrow home favorites, with -120 odds on the moneyline and +120 to cover a spread of -1. On the other side of each line, the Astros are +102 and -148, while there’s some value on under 8 runs at +100, and the over is -121.
Astros Vs. Twins Key Matchups
Javier has some great arm talent but sometimes struggles with letting balls get in the air, while Gray has an issue facing batters from a certain side of the plate, which could prove problematic against some of Houston’s better hitters. Let’s dig into how these matchups might play out.
Cristian Javier vs. Power Hitters
A big part of Javier’s regression this year was due to a spike in homers, driven by a first-percentile ground ball rate. His fastball run value was excellent, but his off-speed pitches were poor, and when those pitches miss, they tend to get taken out of the park, so let’s take a look at some Twins bats who could get him into some trouble.
Rookie Royce Lewis is the talk of the town with three homers already this postseason, to go along with 15 in just 58 regular season games as he has burst onto the scene. Max Kepler led the team with 24 homers this regular season, while Michael A. Taylor put 21 balls out of the park, despite each missing over 30 games. This isn’t a super power-heavy lineup, but they’ve shown that they can be good for a couple of big hits, which could be enough if Gray has a good outing.
Sonny Gray vs. Astros Lefties
Gray’s resume was almost beyond reproach in the regular season, with the third-best ERA in the majors at 2.79 and the league’s very best FIP with a figure of 2.83, and he even allowed the fewest homers per 9 innings of work at 0.4, so there’s not a lot of great ways to get after him. However, he’s been a bit better pitching against other righties, so let’s take a look at some of Houston’s lefty bats that could give him some trouble.
Arguably the two best bats for the Astros this year have been lefties; Yordan Alvarez, who missed time but smacked 31 homers, hit nearly .300, and once again had an OPS in the very high .900s. Kyle Tucker was the team’s best bat that didn’t miss any time with over a 5-WAR season, and Michael Brantley is a solid lefty contact bat. That being said, Gray is a true ace and his ability to work through this lineup is a major reason why I have the under in my Astros vs. Twins prediction.
Astros Vs. Twins Starting Lineups
Astros Starting Lineup
2B J. Altuve R
3B A. Bregman R
LF Y. Alvarez L
RF K. Tucker L
1B J. Abreu R
DH M. Brantley L
CF C. McCormick R
SS J. Pena R
C M. Maldonado R
Twins Starting Lineup
2B E. Julien L
3B J. Polanco S
DH R. Lewis R
SS C. Correa R
RF M. Kepler L
1B A. Kiriloff L
LF M. Wallner L
C R. Jeffers R
CF M. Taylor R