MINNEAPOLIS -- After fighting his command for three innings in the cold against the Astros, right-hander Jake Odorizzi leaned on his experience, deciding to ditch the windup and simplify by pitching exclusively out of the stretch.The move worked to perfection, as Odorizzi settled down against the defending World Series champs,
MINNEAPOLIS -- After fighting his command for three innings in the cold against the Astros, right-hander Jake Odorizzi leaned on his experience, deciding to ditch the windup and simplify by pitching exclusively out of the stretch.
The move worked to perfection, as Odorizzi settled down against the defending World Series champs, navigating his way through six solid innings to outpitch Dallas Keuchel and lead the Twins to a 4-1 win over the Astros on Tuesday night at Target Field with a game-time temperature of 39 degrees.
"I started using my breaking balls after the third inning, and pitching out of the stretch is something I've done in the past to simplify things and keep the movement out of it and just pitch," Odorizzi explained. "I felt like I was flying open early on, and going into the stretch, I tried to close off a little bit more. It's just the little things I've learned over the years."
Odorizzi walked five -- but none after the third inning -- and gave up five hits, but surrendered just one run, as he was able to pitch his way out of several jams. He picked up his first win since joining the Twins via trade in Spring Training and lowered his ERA to 2.20 in three outings.
"The good guys find a way to get through it and give you six even after struggling early," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Minimized the damage when he was scuffling a little bit."
Odorizzi kept Astros hitters guessing with his breaking stuff, as he registered 23 called strikes, including eight with his curveball, while also getting 11 swinging strikes.
"He has really good pitches," said second baseman Jose Altuve. "He has the split and the cutter that can get you out every time, especially when he's throwing balls all over the place and you don't know. I think he pitched a really good game today. He deserved that game."
Keuchel had a rare off-night, lasting four innings and allowing three runs on five hits and four walks. It was his shortest outing since going four innings against the White Sox on Aug. 8.
The Twins scored early after James Dozier led off the first with an infield single and Joe Mauer followed with a walk. Eduardo Escobar plated the first run with a sacrifice fly before Robbie Grossman added an RBI double against his former club.
"The game plan going in was, you have to get Keuchel up," Dozier said. "He loves you chasing out of the zone and down."
The Astros came back with a run in the second, keyed by walks to Josh Reddick and J.D. Davis which set up Jake Marisnick for an RBI single. But Odorizzi escaped further trouble by striking out George Springer.
Minnesota had a chance to break it open in the second, loading the bases with one out after a walk to Dozier. Mauer brought home a run with a walk, but the Twins couldn't add on, as Miguel Sano struck out and Escobar grounded out to end the inning. Mauer, though, added an insurance run in the eighth on a bloop RBI single off reliever Joe Smith for career hit No. 1,997.
Twins relievers Thomas Pressly, Zach Duke and closer Fernando Rodney combined to toss three scoreless innings to preserve the win and even the series at 1-1 heading into Wednesday's finale.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: Odorizzi used double plays to his advantage, as he got Carlos Correa to ground into two double plays to end two scoring threats. The Astros had two runners on with one out in the first when Odorizzi got Correa to roll over into a 6-4-3 double play to escape the jam. And in the fifth, Odorizzi was helped by catcher Mitch Garver throwing out Alex Bregman stealing before Altuve reached on a bunt. But once again, Odorizzi induced a 6-4-3 double play from Correa to end the frame.
"I was trying to get the double play," Odorizzi said. "The first one was a fastball away with some two-seam action. The other one was a split on his hands. Trying to get him to hit the ball on the ground and hopefully right at somebody."
Walk this way: Mauer has long been one of the more patient hitters in baseball and it paid off while batting with the bases loaded in the second. Keuchel had trouble with his control and Mauer laid off several pitches below the zone as Keuchel tried to get Mauer to hit a grounder for a potential double play.
"We tried to be patient," Molitor said. "The way we scored runs, Garver led off with a hit, Grossman had a big hit to get the run, Dozier had a really good night as far as patience and getting on base and Joe had a couple of big hits."
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Dozier went 1-for-1 with four walks, which set a career high for walks in a game. The last Twins player to walk four times in a game was Jason Castro on April 5, 2017.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Twins won a challenge in the first that led to a run eventually scoring, as Dozier was initially ruled out at first on a slow roller hit to third base, but the call was overturned, giving Dozier a leadoff infield single. Dozier later scored on a sacrifice fly from Escobar.
SPRINGER ROBS BUXTON
The Twins had a chance for a big inning in the eighth, but Springer made a great diving grab in right to take away a hit from Byron Buxton. It was rated as a four-star catch by Statcast™, as he had to cover 58 feet in 3.7 seconds, giving it a catch percentage of 38 percent.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (1-0, 0.87 ERA) will look to continue his strong start to the season when he takes the mound in the series finale against the Astros on Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. CT. Gibson allowed one run over 4 1/3 innings against the Mariners on Thursday and is aiming to pitch deeper into the game. With a day game after a night game, Mauer could get a day off at first base.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.