Mike Fiers' strong outing, Jose Altuve's bat helps Houston Astros shut down Minnesota Twins

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange
Houston Astros' Jose Altuve hits an RBI single. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Houston Astros' Jose Altuve hits an RBI single. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

MINNEAPOLIS -- An injury gave Mike Fiers another opportunity in the Houston Astros' rotation.

Fiers rewarded Houston for giving him a second chance with one of his best outings of the season.


Jose Altuve had four hits, Alex Bregman homered and Fiers pitched six strong innings in his second shot in the rotation as the Astros beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2 on Tuesday.

"It was very vintage Fiers for when he's right: high fastballs and a curveball off that arm slot," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "Throwing his curveball for a strike looked to be the point in which he took control of the game and was able to control counts and was able to control the strike zone."

Fiers (2-2) allowed two runs on five hits and three walks. He struck out eight batters. Chris Devenski yielded one hit in two innings and Michael Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth for the Astros.


Altuve's two-run single in the fifth broke a 2-all tie and sent Houston to its eighth win in nine games. Bregman followed two innings later with his second home run in as many games.

Jose Berrios (3-1) gave up a season-high four runs in a season-low five innings. He surrendered five hits and struck out five. Minnesota lost for the fourth time in five home games and fell to 12-17 at Target Field.

"I think I battled out there," Berrios said. "I don't have my command with my off-speed pitches, but I tried to do my best job, keep battling every pitch, every inning to try to hold the game."

Fiers was taken out of the rotation after giving up four runs -- three earned -- in 4 2/3 innings against Detroit in his last outing. Houston made room for Brad Peacock, who dazzled in a spot start, to stay in the rotation.

But a day later, starter Charlie Morton was sent to the disabled list, giving Fiers a temporary reprieve.

"You got to earn your spot here, especially on a first-place team," Fiers said after beating the Twins. "I wasn't doing my job, so when he told me I was going to the bullpen, I've got to do whatever the team needs and not try to think of it as a demotion; just take it and work on my pitches, and hopefully get another chance to get in there.


"No matter what, I want to be on this team. This team is special. It really is. No matter how they use me, I just want to be helpful to these guys."

Fiers didn't look long for Tuesday's game after throwing 30 pitches in the first inning and surrendering two runs. He walked Eddie Rosario with the bases loaded, and Byron Buxton followed with an infield single to score another run.

Settling in, Fiers retired eight in a row at one point and allowed just two hits the rest of the way. He was one off a season high in strikeouts, and he didn't allow a homer for the first time in 10 starts this season.

Fiers said he worked with Lance McCullers on his curveball between starts and then had his best curveball of the season on Tuesday.

"When that's on, I'm a whole different pitcher," Fiers said. "It could be the littlest thing when you're not pitching as well as you think. Big league hitters start eliminating the pitch and makes it a lot easier on them. Having all my pitches tonight was huge, and just being aggressive and attacking those guys."


Berrios had Minnesota hoping he had finally tapped into his immense potential. The team's top pitching prospect, Berrios had allowed four runs over his first three starts this season.

After a strong start, Berrios started to fade against the patient Astros. Control was a big part of his rookie struggles last season and he walked a season-high four batters on Tuesday.

"I told him I was proud of him," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I thought he contained fairly well."

NOTES: Houston manager A.J. Hinch said the team will recall LHP Reymin Guduan from Triple-A Fresno before Wednesday's game. The team had an extra roster spot after optioning RHP Jordan Jankowski after Monday's game. ... Twins LHP Jason Wheeler made his major league debut. He pitched two innings with two runs allowed, one earned. ... Minnesota 3B Miguel Sano was scratched from the starting lineup about an hour before the game with an illness. It was only the second game all season Sano has missed. He was replaced at third base by Ehire Adrianza. ... Houston put RHP Joe Musgrove on the 10-day disabled list with shoulder discomfort. Musgrove was scheduled to start Wednesday's series finale. The Astros recalled RHP David Paulino from Triple-A Fresno to start Wednesday. ... Twins LHP Glen Perkins threw to live hitters on Tuesday and reported feeling as good as he has since shoulder surgery last year. Perkins will head to Florida to continue his rehab for a left posterior shoulder strain. ... Minnesota CF Byron Buxton was back in the lineup a day after sustaining a laceration on the right finger of his right hand.


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