LIVE: Astros-Twins ALDS Game 3 FAQ, lineups (FOX)

October 10th, 2023

The Twins have a chance to clinch the American League Division Series on their home turf if they beat the reigning World Series champion Astros in Games 3 and 4 at Target Field. The ALDS has become a dogfight after Minnesota smacked Houston, 6-2, in Game 2 on Sunday night at Minute Maid Park, evening the series at one game each.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going back home, and confidence is a key component in this game,” Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said. “So, I like where we're at.”

When a Division Series with the current 2-2-1 format has been tied after two games, the club heading home for Games 3 and 4 has won the series 28 of 42 times (67 percent).

The Twins figure to have the pitching advantage, with Sonny Gray getting the start against Cristian Javier, whose wobbly second half is something the Astros hope is behind him. Of course, Houston will have to find a way to contain Correa, who continues to shine when the stakes are highest in October.

The Twins won both of their AL Wild Card Series games at Target Field in front of a raucous crowd, which figures to be even louder for sold-out Games 3 and 4. The Astros are no slouch on the road, though, going 51-30 away from home this year, winning 14 of their final 17 games away from Minute Maid Park.

Houston went 5-1 on the road in last year’s playoffs, including series-clinching wins at Seattle and the Bronx against the Yankees.

“We play well on the road,” Astros center fielder Chas McCormick said. “We like the boos. We like the loud crowd. I think we’re in good shape.”

When is the game and how can I watch it?

Today's game is being televised in the U.S. on FOX.

All series are available in the U.S. on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are available live internationally (except in Canada). Full game archives will be available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends.

Who are the starting pitchers?

Astros: Cristian Javier

Javier threw six scoreless innings in his final regular-season start in Arizona on Oct. 1, allowing three hits while striking out four in the Astros’ win over the D-backs. The righty will look to repeat his postseason success from one year ago, when he posted a 0.71 ERA over three outings (two starts), spanning 12 2/3 innings, for the World Series champs.

In three career postseasons, Javier has compiled a 2.20 ERA (8 ER in 32 2/3 IP).

Twins: Sonny Gray
Before the postseason began, Gray’s young son, Declan, turned to him with a question: “Dad, are we in the playoffs?”

“Yeah, we are,” Gray said.

“You’d better not lose,” Declan said.

Gray is pitching with the renewed love and joy for the game his sons have given him, and he channeled that into five scoreless innings against the Blue Jays in the clinching Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series last Tuesday. Counting that appearance, Gray has a 1.88 ERA in 12 starts since the beginning of August. His best start of the regular season came at Target Field against the Astros on April 7, when he allowed one run in seven innings to go with 13 strikeouts.

What are the starting lineups?

Astros: Houston used the same lineup in each of the first two games, which is something manager Dusty Baker didn’t do much in the regular season. He switched it up for Game 3, inserting Mauricio Dubón in center over Chas McCormick and sitting Michael Brantley in favor of Yainer Diaz at designated hitter.

Twins: The platoon lineup against left-handed pitching did its job against Framber Valdez in Game 2 on Sunday, and it’s right back to business with the standard lineup against the right-handed Javier, with Edouard Julien, Alex Kirilloff and Matt Wallner back into the starting nine -- with a twist.

Julien will lead off as the designated hitter, Royce Lewis moved down a spot and will start at third and after batting sixth and fourth in the first two games of the series, Carlos Correa was slotted fifth vs. the righty.

How will the bullpens line up after the starter?

Astros: Monday’s off-day will allow the Astros to give their bullpen a reset, so everyone should be available for Game 3. None of their three best relievers -- Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu and closer Ryan Pressly -- pitched in Game 2, so they’ll have two days of rest. If Javier has a short hook, Houston has two long relief options in Hunter Brown, José Urquidy and J.P. France, with one of them getting the start in Game 4.

Twins: The entirety of Minnesota’s leverage group should be good to go after Monday’s off-day, and even Chris Paddack should be fine after he was only used for 19 pitches in Game 1 on Saturday. The only question is whether long man Kenta Maeda will be good to go; he probably will be, but the Twins might still prefer to wait until a Game 4, if needed to pitch behind the shorter hook that could be in play behind starter Joe Ryan.

Any injuries of note?

Astros: Relief pitcher Kendall Graveman is battling right shoulder discomfort and isn’t on the ALDS roster.

Twins: Lewis was not running well throughout the AL Wild Card Series due to a left hamstring strain he sustained two weeks before the start of the playoffs, but he appeared to be doing much better on the basepaths during Game 2 on Sunday. He'll make his first start in the field in the postseason at third.

Who’s hot, who’s not?

Astros: Alvarez’s torrid home run pace continued in Game 2, when he launched an opposite-field two-run shot off Brock Stewart in the eighth inning. Dating back to the 2022 postseason, Alvarez has homered in three straight postseason games and in four of his past five ALDS games.

Jose Altuve was 2-for-4 with a double in Game 2, recording the 32nd multi-hit game of his postseason career and surpassing Manny Ramirez for the third-most in postseason history.

Kyle Tucker was 0-for-3 in Game 2 and is batting .143 (1-for-7) over the first two games of the ALDS.

Twins: Correa went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs in Game 2 to tie David Justice for the third-most RBIs in postseason history (63), with Manny Ramirez (78) next on the list. Correa also recorded the 18th multi-RBI game of his postseason career, breaking a tie with David Ortiz for the third-most in postseason history.

Though the left-handed-hitting side of the Twins’ platoon is stronger on paper, they haven’t shown it in practice this postseason. Wallner is 0-for-6 with a walk and Kirilloff is 0-for-7 with two walks in games against the Blue Jays and Astros.