The Houston Astros will go for their eighth win in a row when they visit the Minnesota Twins to open a nine-game road trip Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
Houston is coming off a four-game home sweep of the Detroit Tigers. That followed the Astros' three-game sweep, also at home, against the Seattle Mariners.
During their seven-game win streak, the Astros have allowed only eight runs. Their pitchers combined for three shutouts and limited opponents to two runs apiece in the other four wins.
"Pitching is the name of the game," Astros manager Dusty Baker said. "Guys are going deep into games. Our bullpen wasn't stretched out too badly these last seven games.
"I mean, that was the last of 17 (games) in a row. We urged our guys to finish strong, not think about the off day (Monday)."
Minnesota also was able to enjoy its off day after completing a three-game sweep at home Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. All three of the Twins' wins came by one run -- 2-1, 1-0 and 4-3 -- as the team continued its early-season success atop the American League Central division.
The Twins were able to complete the sweep without starting shortstop Carlos Correa, whose status will be an intriguing subplot for the series against Houston. Correa signed with the Twins during the offseason after spending his first seven seasons with the Astros.
Correa has not played since Thursday because of a bruised right middle finger. But X-rays showed no fracture, and he has avoided the injured list in hopes of making a quicker return.
That could come as soon as the series opener if his finger has healed enough, but Correa said he wanted to be smart and not risk a longer-term setback by returning too soon.
In 24 games with the Twins, Correa is hitting .255 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. He won a World Series ring with Houston in 2017, and he earned a National League Rookie of the Year award (2015), two All-Star selections (2017, 2021) and a Gold Glove (2021) with the team.
"I'm just grateful for everyone in that organization," Correa said to the Houston Chronicle after signing with the Twins. "They made me the player that I am today. They helped me grow into the person I am today. I've only got great things to say about them."
Minnesota also is waiting to learn more about the status of top outfielder Byron Buxton, who sat out Sunday because of a mild hip strain.
Houston right-hander Justin Verlander (3-1, 1.93 ERA) is slated to start the series opener. Verlander has 229 career victories, and his next win will move him past Luis Tiant, Will White and Sam Jones for sole possession of No. 66 on the all-time list.
In 38 career starts against Minnesota, Verlander is 20-10 with a 2.91 ERA.
The Twins will tap right-hander Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63). The 25-year-old is coming off a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles, against whom he allowed two runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Ryan has yet to face the Astros in his career.
This will mark the first of two series between the teams during the regular season. They are scheduled to meet for three more games in Houston from Aug. 23-25.
--Field Level Media