As expected, Twins folded shop

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I warned you about trusting the Minnesota Twins, right?

Last week, I told you their pitching would do them in, and then we saw the New York Yankees sweep their divisional series by a combined final of 23-7.

Tuesday, the Houston Astros were about to hand the ball to Cy Young-candidate Justin Verlander for Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Rays, and something tells me by the time the weekend rolls around, we’ll be preparing for an Astros-Yankees American League Championship Series for the second time in three years.

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The question is, can the pinstripes keep up their offensive onslaught against Houston’s lethal rotation?

I’m not afraid to say it, but Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Zack Greinke cannot contain the Yankees on their own. The Astros could turn to Wade Miley if needed. Rising rookie Jose Urquidy could start, but we saw what happened to Oakland’s young gun Sean Manaea in the A.L. Wild Card Game.

Nevertheless, I still think the Yankees can get to Houston’s pitching staff.

Let’s look at Houston’s three main starters:

Verlander was 1-0 in two starts with a 4.15 ERA after allowing six earned runs over 13 innings, and giving up 11 hits, including two home runs. In his career, the veteran right-hander is 8-7 in 22 starts with a 3.55 ERA and has been tagged for 21 home runs — third-most of any opponent.

Cole faced New York once this season, on April 9, and didn’t get a decision after allowing three runs in seven innings on four hits, including a home run. For his career, the hard-throwing righty is 1-0 in just two starts and has a lofty 4.15 ERA.

Greinke, whom I believe is the rotation’s Achilles’ heel, was actually 1-0 in two starts against the Yankees this season, with a stingy 2.13 ERA. Those are respectable, but for his career, the 35-year-old right-hander is 4-4 in 15 appearances with a whopping 5.05 ERA.

And if the Astros must turn to Miley, well, it’s not good. The 32-year-old southpaw is 0-4 lifetime vs. New York, over 11 starts, with a 5.98 ERA. His 30 walks against the Yankees are the third-most of any opponent, and if they start hitting the ball, his confidence could lead to high on-base percentage for New York.

Sure, if the Astros wrapped things up Tuesday, they will have enjoyed plenty of rest heading into Saturday’s Game 1 of the ALCS. If they were forced to a Game 5 in Houston on Thursday, there will be one day of rest. Either way, they’ll be facing the offense that had the highest postseason batting average (.293) through Monday night’s games.

In three games, New York had scored the most runs (23). As a matter of perspective: there were four teams that had played four games and one team that played five.

During the regular season, the Yankees ranked fourth with a .267 batting average, they ranked third with a .490 slugging percentage and they sat atop the entire league with 943 runs scored.

The fact is, as great as Houston’s pitching staff has been all season, its big three (and add in Miley) has seen its share of problems with an always powerful Yankees offense.

Don’t count out the pinstripes just yet folks, as the Bronx could see the burning of the Astros.

Wednesday

Cardinals -105 at Braves: I’m going to roll with the Cardinals on the road, as I love the pitching matchup I see for Game 5, with Jack Flaherty facing the Braves and Mike Foltynewicz. Flaherty faced the Braves twice in 13 days back in May and was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He limited the hits, allowing just six, while striking out 13.

And while the 23-year-old right-hander is just 8-9 lifetime in 36 road starts, his opponents’ batting average on the road was just .214 this season, and .197 last season.

Foltynewicz, who did turn in an epic start in Game 2, had a rather high 4.54 ERA this season, and comes into this one after going 1-1 with a 6.74 ERA against the Cards in 2019. The worst of the two starts took place in Atlanta, where the Cardinals slapped the 27-year old right-hander for eight runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.

There is always something mysterious about this St. Louis franchise in the postseason. I’m going with them in the series-decider. CARDINALS

Last week: 1-0

Season: 36-39

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About the Author

W.G. Ramirez

W.G. Ramirez is a 32-year veteran covering sports in Southern Nevada, and resident of 46 years. He is a freelance reporter in Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada correspondent for The Associated Press.

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