The Twins hung an eight-spot in the bottom of the fourth inning against Astros starter Lance McCullers, two of which scored on a Max Kepler home run, to take an 8-1 lead. But the Twins watched that seven-run lead evaporate as the Astros scored four runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, then rallied for two more runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game.
Kepler saved the Twins in the bottom of the ninth, drilling a 3-2 slider from Brad Peacock into the stands in right field for a walk-off solo home run, his second dinger of the day.
According to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, Twins manager Paul Molitor was talking extra-innings strategy with his coaches when Kepler hit his walk-off home run. Kepler didn’t want to see the game go into extras.
Kepler is now batting .281/.395/.625 with three home runs, five RBI, and four runs scored in 38 plate appearances on the season.
The Twins, now 6-4, won two of three games against the defending World Series champions. They went 1-5 against them last year.
Things haven’t gone quite according to plan for the Astros, who missed the opportunity to clinch the American League Championship Series after losing 4-1 to the Yankees in Game 5 on Friday. Still just one win away from a World Series invitation, they’ll try their luck again on Saturday night.
Neither lineup has been significantly altered for Game 6. The Yankees will try to push the series to a final Game 7 with right-hander Chad Green, backed by this configuration:
1. DJ LeMahieu (R) 1B
2. Aaron Judge (R) RF
3. Gleyber Torres (R) 2B
4. Aaron Hicks (S) CF
5. Edwin Encarnación (R) DH
6. Didi Gregorius (L) SS
7. Gary Sánchez (R) C
8. Gio Urshela (R) 3B
9. Brett Gardner (L) LF
The Astros, meanwhile, will send Brad Peacock to the mound in what figures to be a bullpen game for both sides, marking the righty’s first official postseason start since the 2017 ALDS. Martín Maldonado is back in the lineup, as is Josh Reddick, while both Robinson Chirinos and Jack Marisnick will be available off the bench.
1. George Springer (R) CF
2. José Altuve (R) 2B
3. Michael Brantley (L) LF
4. Alex Bregman (R) 3B
5. Yuli Gurriel (R) 1B
6. Carlos Correa (R) SS
7. Yordan Álvarez (L) DH
8. Martín Maldonado (R) C
9. Josh Reddick (L) RF
Starting tonight, the ALCS returns to Houston for Game 6 and a potential Game 7. Game time is set for 8:08 PM EDT.