Preview: Twins (69-64) at Astros (73-61)
Venue: Minute Maid Park
Date: September 04, 2015 8:10 PM EDT
As Collin McHugh looks to carry over his success from last month, the Houston Astros right-hander should expect to see ailing rookie Miguel Sano in the Minnesota Twins lineup.
McHugh will try to help the Astros avoid losing three straight home games for the first time in almost four months in Friday night’s series opener.
Though McHugh went 2-2 in five August starts, he posted a 1.89 ERA. He’s also enjoyed some extended rest since allowing two runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 victory at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 26.
“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in preparing my body well and to try to prepare mentally to be better at the end (of the season) than I was at the beginning,” McHugh (14-7, 3.92 ERA) told MLB’s official website. “I don’t know whether it’s willing yourself to do it a little bit better or not.”
Making his first appearance against Minnesota (69-64) this year, McHugh yielded one run over seven innings in each of his three home starts last month. However, Houston (73-61) didn’t score with him on the mound in the last two.
The Astros dropped two straight to Seattle for their first losing home series since May 29-31. They haven’t lost three in a row there since a four-game slide May 4-12.
“We did have our own opportunities and a chance to win the series,” manager A.J. Hinch said after Wednesday’s 8-3 defeat.
Holding a two-game lead over Texas in the AL West, the Astros face a Minnesota club that took two of three from them last weekend.
Sano’s only hit in five at-bats in that series was a two-run homer. Plagued by a sore hamstring, the talented slugger homered in three straight games before being limited to a pinch-hitting role in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the White Sox.
With the Twins 1 1/2 games back of the Rangers for the second wild-card spot, Sano should be back in the lineup.
“I don’t imagine – unless things get significantly worse – that we’re going to take him out for a week or whatever,” manager Paul Molitor said of Sano, who has hit eight of his 15 home runs and recorded 17 RBIs in his last 15 games.
“We’re just going to try to monitor it and rest it a little bit when we can and try to find a way to get as many at-bats as we can from here on out.”
While Sano appears healthy enough to contribute, closer Glen Perkins won’t make the trip to Houston because of back spasms. Kevin Jepsen is expected to continue closing games for Perkins, who is second in the AL with 32 saves.
‘We’ve got enough people out there,” Molitor said.
Following their third defeat in 13 games, the Twins turn to Mike Pelfrey (6-8, 3.85). The right-hander hopes for a better performance after he allowed four runs, seven hits and walked two in 3 2-3 innings of Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Houston.
There might be a chance Pelfrey faces George Springer, who has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a wrist injury but could return in this series. Springer has 13 homers and 29 RBIs in 75 games.