Anything can happen in the postseason.
The Houston Astros found their playoff stride as they swept the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card series, becoming the first team of the 2020 playoffs to advance forward after their 3-1 victory at Target Field on Wednesday afternoon.
With their backs against the walls, the Twins could not tie down Carlos Correa, who hit the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Astros the lead they needed to say “hello” to the American League Divisional Series, once again.
Correa doesn’t shy away from big moments in the playoffs. In 200 at-bats in the postseason, the shortstop has 22 runs, 51 hits, 12 home runs and 34 RBI — the most RBI in the postseason within the Astros franchise.
“We have a solid team,” Correa said confidently minutes after after advancing to the ALDS. “We can play baseball, we can win games, we can win series against great teams and that’s what we did this series. We show that we’re still a solid team and we showed that we deserve some respect.”
The Houston Astros sub-.500 record nears the unexpected side of the season’s expectations spectrum. With a 29-31 record they were etched as the No. 7 seed and clinched second place in the American League West.
“We are very confident. I said before the series, the experience that we have in the playoffs and all that we acquired throughout the last couple years playing in the World Series. It’s gonna help us in this series and it did,” Correa said. “The experience that we have, we are calm and collective and we were able to deliver and come through and come up with the series win.”
The source of the Astros success in the two games against Minnesota was found on the pitching mound. After a lights out outing from Zack Greinke and Framber Valdez, Jose Urquidy took the starting nod and produced 4.1 innings of one-run ball, ultimately handing the ball over to the bullpen to lead the Astros to their fourth straight trip to the Divisional Series.
“I’m thankful for the manager giving me this opportunity,” Urquidy said after the game. “I think what I did last year in the postseason helps them to have more confidence in me, and I really appreciate that. I need to focus on doing the best job I can, and the No. 1 priority for me is staying healthy.”
The Twins exit the 2020 season without the answers to overcome their playoff woes even playing in the oddest of years. Their postseason losing streak has officially extended to 18 games — the last win dates back to October 5, 2004 against the New York Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The frustration of a postseason slump seeped through the cracks and surfaced when Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario was ejected from Game 2 after arguing the strike zone in the sixth inning.
The Astros carry on and will pack their bags to Major League Baseball’s “bubble” and neutral playing site in Los Angeles. The club will face either the Oakland Athletics (0-1) or Chicago White Sox (1-0) at Dodger Stadium on Monday October 5, 2020.
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