Coming off a stellar outing from Justin Verlander in Game One, Houston had to be feeling really good about throwing Framber Valdez on the mound against a Twins' offense that has been decidedly suspect this season. Valdez didn't quite match his production from 2022 this season, but he still posted a 3.45 ERA in almost 200 innings in 2023 while posting one of the best strikeout and walk rates of his career.
Unfortunately, Framber had little answer for Carlos Correa whose return to Houston this postseason has been a reminder of how good he can be under the bright lights of the playoffs. Instead of keeping the Astros in the game with Pablo Lopez dealing for the Twins, Houston found themselves down by five runs before Valdez was finally pulled from the game and they were not able to forge a comeback.
Production from the top of the lineup is absolutely critical in these must-win sorts of games and Jose Altuve have done their jobs in this series for sure. However, sandwiched between them in the lineup is Alex Bregman who has been decidedly less good.
The plus side here is that Bregman did score a pair of runs in Game One which is not nothing. Unfortunately, Bregman also only has one hit in the series so far, so the amount of table-setting he has done in the two-hole of the lineup has been limited to say the least. Bregman has to be an anchor for this Astros lineup and he has loads of playoff experience and success to draw from. If Houston is going to pull this series out, he is going to have to give the team more than he has through the first two games.