CM – The newly minted helper Matt Shoemaker gives up two runs when the twins fall to Astros


Twin rookie Bailey Ober strode off Target Field hill Friday night after completing the top half of the fifth row for a win, with his team leading 3-1 at the time.

Two innings later, Astros starter José Urquidy also ended his night on the payline. His team had run up in the top of the seventh, and he finished his final inning of work by hitting two of the last three thugs he faced.

On another night, one of the two might have got away with a win. The game was decided late on Friday when the Astros scored two runs in ninth place against Matt Shoemaker, who made his first appearance since 2015 and sent the twins to a 6-4 loss to the Astros in the finish line in the series opener.

Shoemaker was supposed to start the game on Friday night, but the twins (25-38) announced ahead of the game that they would move the veteran to the bullpen. After throwing a goalless eighth inning, manager Rocco Baldelli opted to send Shoemaker back instead of reaching out to Hansel Robles, who warmed up.

With multiple relievers taxed during recent extended stakes and having already fielded Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers in the game, Baldelli said if they had turned to Robles in the ninth game they would likely have 10 innings involved, something they thought they couldn’t take chances.

« We can’t get into a position where we look up in the 11th inning and say, ‘Hey, we’re not sure who we’re going to finish,' » said Baldelli. “We can never let that happen. On top of that, we also liked the matchups where Shoe competed against the guys he faced in the ninth inning. We think he can go out there and get these guys out of there. It didn’t go like that tonight.  »

Shoemaker allowed a leadoff single on Myles Straw to begin ninth. Straw moved up to second place with a pass, and after Martín Maldonado tried to bring a sacrifice bunt down, the Astros catcher opted for a double instead to kick off. Michael Brantley, who finished day 4 for 4 and hit base five times, later added an insurance run with an RBI single in the inning.

Ober, who started instead of Shoemaker, completed five innings in his third start as a major leaguer – a new career high. He hit seven and only gave up two runs, which made another good impression as he pushed for further consideration in the rotation.

« I felt like I attacked these guys pretty well, » said Ober. “I stayed with my strengths. Here and there only a few parking spaces.  »

The twins’ offense, meanwhile, consisted entirely of solo home runs on Friday night, with four of their six hits in the game leaving the ballpark. In his first at-bat since leaving the Yankees the night before, Nelson Cruz landed a homerun in the bullpen. Miguel Sanó caught an Urquidy fastball in the second inning and Josh Donaldson attacked a first-pitch slider from Urquidy one inning later.

But the twins could hardly do anything else against Urquidy, who got 21 puffs and hit eight in his seven innings. He would have won himself had it not been for Donaldson’s second home run of the evening to be in the eighth inning. And while Urquidy didn’t get away with a win, his team made it on a back-and-forth series opener.

« At every point where we had to make a decision, we make a decision and immediately the game shifted to us and the score changed, » said Baldelli. “… When talking to the coaching staff with (pitching trainer) Wes (Johnson) there is really nothing we would do differently. I mean, we want to put our guys in the best position to be successful and to score outs, and we have to make sure we are covered as the game progresses.  »
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