Rookie right-hander Griffin Jax earned his first career win as a starter and the Minnesota Twins parlayed a four-run second inning into a 5-3 road victory over the Houston Astros on Thursday.
Jax (2-1) limited the Astros to one hit and just two baserunners through five shutout innings. He allowed a leadoff home run to Jason Castro and a one-out double to Chas McCormick that led to his departure in the sixth.
Jax logged a career-high 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk while keeping the Astros off-balance with an effective four-pitch mix. Jax threw 75 pitches, 49 for strikes, and relied mostly on his four-seam fastball.
The Twins, who improved to 3-3 on their season-long nine-game road trip, pounced on Astros left-hander Framber Valdez (7-3) with one out in the second inning. Valdez retired the Twins in order in the top of the first, notching a pair of strikeouts before the tide turned.
Rob Refsnyder, Miguel Sano and Willians Astudillo all singled in succession, with Refsyder scoring on the Astudillo base hit to right field. Trevor Larnach added a run-scoring double that plated Sano and Astudillo scored on Andrelton Simmons' run-scoring groundout to short.
Jorge Polanco completed the uprising with an infield single that drove home Larnach and pushed the Twins to a 4-0 lead.
Valdez steadied himself and faced only three batters over the minimum between the third and the sixth innings, and departed with two outs in the seventh having allowed four runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts.
It marked just the third time in 13 starts this season that Valdez allowed more than three runs. Yordan Alvarez slugged a two-run home run, his 21st, to right in the ninth off Twins left-hander Danny Coulombe but the Astros could not complete the comeback.
Alex Colome came on with two outs and a runner on to get Martin Maldonado on a lineout to end the game and record his fourth save.
--Field Level Media