The Astros entered Sunday night with the chance to seize control of the ALDS. They held a 1-0 lead over the Twins and sent Framber Valdez to the hill. Rather than seize control, they received a haymaker from the Twins. Minnesota punched back behind elite starting pitching and Carlos Correa, defeating Houston 6-2.
Valdez was untouchable last postseason, recording a 1.44 ERA, but it was Valdez' counterpart, Pablo Lopez, who looked every bit the part of the seasoned playoff performer. Valdez looked like the inexperienced October pitcher.
The Twins jumped on Valdez early courtesy of a familiar foe. Carlos Correa turned around a Valdez curveball for a two-out RBI double, giving Minnesota a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. A two-run shot from Kyle Farmer in the third gave the Twins a three-run lead, a plenty big enough lead with as dominant as Pablo Lopez was.
Houston offense fails to solve Pablo Lopez in Game Two of ALDS
Lopez flummoxed the Astros over seven sterling innings, striking out seven and scattering six hits. He made the heart of the Astros order repeatedly look silly, extinguishing any Astros rally before it began.
While Lopez dominated Houston, Framber Valdez struggled through 4.1 laborious innings. Valdez gave up seven hits and walked three, allowing five runs. Valdez battled command issues all night and resembled no part of the playoff ace of 2022, instead looking like the pitcher with a 4.66 second-half ERA.
The Astros lone offense came in the bottom of the eighth. Yordan Alvarez followed an Alex Bregman walk with his third home run of the series, driving a first-pitch cutter into Home Run Alley in left center, getting the Astros on the board.
Though Houston still lost by four runs, the big fly did force Rocco Baldelli to bring his lights out closer, Johan Duran, into the game, which could pay dividends for Houston later in the series after getting another look.
The loss was Houston's first home loss in the ALDS since 2015. The Astros will now head to Minnesota tied 1-1 with Cristian Javier on the bump for Game 3 in a battle with Sonny Gray.