Houston Astros vs. Minnesota Twins: 2020 ALCS simulation

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 24: Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros hits a two run home run in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park on April 24, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 24: Michael Brantley #23 of the Houston Astros hits a two run home run in the third inning against the Minnesota Twins at Minute Maid Park on April 24, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Alex Avila of the Minnesota Twins (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Alex Avila of the Minnesota Twins (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

In Game 5 of the ALCS, four bombs just weren’t enough for the Houston Astros.

The Astros turned to their Game 1 starter, Verlander, for the pivotal fifth game. But Twins manager Rocco Baldelli shied away from Berrios, who had been hit hard in that first ALCS start, preferring to lean on young left-hander Devin Smeltzer (11-7, 4.82).

Smeltzer may have lacked a playoff pedigree, but it was Verlander who took the early damage. In the top of the first inning, Bregman muffed Polanco’s one-out groundball and Garver followed with a hit into the hole that Correa knocked down but could make no play on.

Donaldson, the American League regular season RBI leader, had excelled all season in opportunities of this sort. He got a high breaking ball and fired it over the Crawfords in left for a three-run bomb that gave the Twins a nice early lead.

In this offensive atmosphere, it would not, however, be enough. Michael Brantley homered with two out in the second, Josh Reddick opened the third with another home run, and the Astros were back within one. In the fourth, Smeltzer walked Brantley and set the stage for Correa, who slammed his team’s third home run over the wall in left.

But that home run only moved the Astros within a run because the Twins had tapped Verlander for two more in the top of the inning. They came home on catcher Alex Avila’s leg triple into the right-field corner with Kepler and Buxton on the bases. In the fifth, Polanco also tripled and he scored when Bregman misplayed Garver’s ground ball into an error.

The Twins finally dispatched Verlander when Kepler opened the seventh with a base on balls. But the relief corps was not helpful. Joe Biagini allowed a base hit, then walked Buxton and Avila to force Kepler home and make the score 7-4.

Smeltzer was long gone by then, but the Twins bullpen performed admirably in his absence. Tyler Clippard, Tyler Duffey, and Taylor Rogers combined to hold the Astros scoreless on one hit, Reddick’s seventh-inning home run. It was the Astros’ fourth home of the game, but it only brought them within two runs and they never got closer.

In fact, the Astros only collected three hits all game which did not leave the field. For the first time, Minnesota held the ALCS lead at three games to two….and they were going home for Game 6.

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Minnesota          300    210    100    — 711  0

Houston              011    200    100    — 5  7  2

W: Clippard. L: Verlander. S: Rogers.