Minnesota Twins third baseman Royce Lewis couldn’t have asked for a better season debut.
One year to the day after sustaining a right anterior cruciate ligament tear that ended his rookie season after just 12 games, Lewis returned to the Minnesota lineup on Monday and finished 2-for-5 with a three-run home run and four RBIs in the Twins’ 7-5, 10-inning win over the Houston Astros.
The teams will play the second game of the three-game series on Tuesday in Houston.
Lewis not only provided the Twins a 3-0 lead with his opposite-field home run off the right field foul pole in the third inning, but his two-out RBI single in the ninth off Astros closer Ryan Pressly pulled the Twins even at 5-5 and forced extra innings. It was a banner comeback from injury for the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft.
“I got a chance to enjoy that and watch it just like everyone else,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Lewis, who slashed .300/.317/.550 last season. “No one is enjoying it more than him though, and that’s a helluva lot of hard work that’s paid off and now we’re seeing what this young man can do. Kind of picking up where he left off the last time he was here.
“What a day, though. What a day for him.”
Joe Ryan (7-1, 2.21 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Twins on Tuesday.
The right-hander earned the 7-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday after allowing one run on six hits and two walks with four strikeouts over five innings. At 107 pitches, it marked his highest pitch count and shortest outing of the season. Ryan had worked at least six innings in each of his first nine starts.
Ryan is 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA over two career starts against the Astros. He faced Houston on April 8 in Minneapolis and earned the 9-6 victory after allowing four runs on three hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts over six innings.
Right-hander Brandon Bielak (1-2, 3.55 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Astros on Tuesday. He allowed four runs on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts over a career-high 6 2/3 innings in a 4-0 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. Bielak had surrendered a total of four earned runs in his three previous starts combined, going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA during that span.
Bielak will oppose the Twins for the first time in his career.
Houston’s Mauricio Dubon started in left field for the first time this season on Monday, an attempt by manager Dusty Baker to keep Dubon actively involved following the recent return of second baseman Jose Altuve.
Dubon made 37 starts at second with Altuve sidelined by a right thumb fracture sustained in the World Baseball Classic, and he provided a surprising impact for Houston at the plate.
He is batting .295 with one home run and nine RBIs. On Monday, he finished 2-for-4 with a run, and he singled in the seventh inning to help set the stage for Altuve to club a grand slam.
With Altuve back in the fold, Dubon won’t get consistent at-bats at second base and he’s also blocked by Jeremy Pena at shortstop. His start in left could be the first of many for Dubon at varying spots defensively as Baker juggles his options.
“He can’t play every day because of the guys that we have,” the manager said. “I’m trying to figure out a way to get him in the lineup to help us.”
–Field Level Media