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Twins’ Jose Miranda looks to keep hits coming against Astros

Minnesota designated hitter Jose Miranda established a club record with his 10th consecutive hit on Friday in the Twins’ 13-12 loss to the Houston Astros in the opener of a three-game series that continues on Saturday in Minneapolis.

After recording a hit in his final at-bat on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers, Miranda went 5-for-5 against the Tigers on Thursday before going 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, missing out on the Twins’ seven-run frame.

“These are all very good swings,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re not talking about a guy that … got a bunch of seeing-eye singles and softly hit balls. As far as I can remember all these swings are just terrific swings. He’s having great at-bats that are leading to the swings. He’s laying off the tough pitches and when he gets a pitch to hit, he’s hitting a line drive somewhere hard.

“I don’t want to talk too much about it anymore and I’m not talking to him about it. I just keep patting him on the back and letting him work.”

Right-hander Joe Ryan (5-5, 3.21 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Twins on Saturday. He did not factor into the decision of a 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits with 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

It marked the second time this season that Ryan has produced double-digit strikeouts. Ryan has not recorded a decision in his last three starts, posting a 3.06 ERA and .711 OPS with 20 strikeouts over 17 2/3 innings.

Ryan is 1-3 with an 8.53 ERA over four career starts against the Astros. He allowed five runs on eight hits — including four home runs — and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings in a 5-2 loss in Houston on June 1.

Right-hander Hunter Brown (6-5, 4.07) has the starting assignment for the Astros. He produced his eighth consecutive quality start and fifth straight win in a 3-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday, allowing two hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six scoreless innings. Brown is 5-1 with a 1.29 ERA during that eight-start stretch with 53 strikeouts in 49 innings and four scoreless outings.

Brown is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three career starts against the Twins. He did not factor into the decision in a 4-3 home loss to Minnesota on June 2 after allowing three runs on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts over six innings.

Lost in the deluge of 25 runs and 33 hits was a critical defensive play made by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve to close the second inning, a dazzling sliding grab in shallow right field that temporarily preserved the Astros’ one-run lead.

The play was a microcosm of what Altuve — who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI single — provides. So, when Altuve departed in the eighth inning after being hit on the left hand by a Josh Winder pitch, there was cause for concern.

Altuve was diagnosed with a left hand contusion after X-rays did not reveal a fracture. Upon being hit by the pitch, Altuve signaled for team trainer Jeremiah Randall and almost immediately retreated to the visiting clubhouse.

“When he tried to grab Jeremiah’s hand there wasn’t much strength,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “That’s why we removed him from the game.”

Altuve missed the first six weeks last season after suffering a right thumb fracture in the World Baseball Classic. Few players mean as much to their ballclub as Altuve does to Houston.

“He’s the heart of this team,” Espada said. “So it’d be really hard not to have him around.”

Said Altuve: “It got me pretty good in the hand. I got a little worried and it was painful so I came out of the game.”

The Astros have won 13 of their past 15 games.

–Field Level Media

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