Buxton, Farmer hit three-run homers as Twins top Astros 9-6

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS – Byron Buxton and Kyle Farmer hit three-run homers to power the Minnesota Twins past the Houston Astros 9-6 on Saturday.

Christian Vázquez had two RBI singles, Trevor Larnach had two hits and an RBI and Joe Ryan (2-0) recovered from Yordan Alvarez‘s grand slam to win his second straight start.

The defending champion Astros were held hitless in seven of nine innings and fell to 3-6. The Twins, who lost all six games to the Astros last season by a combined 36-11, improved to 6-2.

Jeremy Peña gave his slump and the lagging Astros lineup a jolt with a two-run homer in the ninth off Jovani Moran, who left two on for Jhoan Duran to clean up the mess. Duran retired Yainer Diaz – the tying run – with a strikeout for his second save.

The damage had already done by the Twins with a four-run eighth against Ronel Blanco highlighted by Buxton’s first homer of the season. The Twins went deep only six times in their first seven games.

Astros reliever Seth Martinez (1-1) took the loss on Vázquez’s tiebreaking single in the sixth that followed a double by Farmer, who had three hits after a game-winning single in the 10th inning in the series opener. Farmer hit a three-run shot in a four-run second against Astros starter Luis Garcia, who finished four innings.

Alvarez delivered his third career slam in the third, a 116 mph drive over the limestone facade and into the plants in right field that was measured by MLB’s Statcast data as the third-hardest hit in baseball this season. Alvarez, who has three homers this year, moved into the major league lead with 14 RBIs.

The Twins debuted at Ryan’s request new cream-colored jerseys with dark blue lettering and “Twin Cities” across the front, one of four new uniform sets that emerged from a major offseason makeover.

The more important upgrade was on the rotation, with the acquisition of Pablo López, the return of Kenta Maeda from injury and the opportunity for Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle to get healthier over the winter too. The Twins have the best team ERA in the major leagues, and their starters allowed just five runs in 40 1/3 innings over the first seven games.

Thanks to Alvarez’s big swing on the first pitch from Ryan, that streak of one or zero runs allowed ended with a smash. But Ryan, the youngest member of the group, snapped right back by retiring the next 11 batters in a row to finish six innings for the second start in a row.


Astros batters struck out 16 times in the series opener and whiffed 17 more times in this game, with seven strikeouts in an eight-batter stretch from the sixth to the eighth. José Abreu took a called third strike in the second inning for a clock violation.


Astros manager Dusty Baker moved Chas McCormick into the leadoff spot that opened when star Jose Altuve broke his thumb late in spring training. Peña, who struck out four times on Friday, was moved down to the sixth spot.


Twins right fielder Max Kepler (right knee soreness) was placed on the 10-day injured list prior to the game, his fourth straight absence. Joey Gallo was also held out with soreness in his right side. The Twins called up Matt Wallner from Triple-A St. Paul for another outfielder. Byron Buxton is exclusively serving as the designated hitter early in the season to be careful in his comeback from knee trouble.


Astros: RHP Hunter Brown (0-0, 7.71 ERA) pitches on Sunday.

Twins: RHP Tyler Mahle (1-0, 1.80 ERA) takes the mound for the series finale.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).