MINNESOTA TWINS (45-43)
at HOUSTON ASTROS (60-29)
First pitch: Friday, 8:10 p.m. ET
Line: N/A, Total: N/A
Two of the more surprising teams in the league meet when the Astros host the Twins on Friday.
Both the Twins and the Astros have exceeded expectations thus far, as Minnesota is currently in the hunt in the AL Central and Houston has the second-best record in Major League Baseball. Nobody expected the Twins to be over .500 at this point, so itís shocking to see them playing so well. The Astros, meanwhile, were supposed to be good, but not many people expected them to be what they are right now. Well, now expectations are a bit higher for these teams in the second half of the year. The first start of the second half of the season for these teams will go to RHP Jose Berrios (8-2, 3.53 ERA, 69 K) for the Twins and RHP Charlie Morton (6-3, 3.82 ERA, 68 K) for the Astros. The Twins will be comfortable playing in Houston on Friday, as they are 25-15 when playing on the road this season. The Astros, however, are 27-18 when playing in Houston, so itís not like theyíll be uncomfortable.
The Twins are hoping to start the second half of the year off with a win and they definitely have the right guy on the mound here. After really struggling in his time with Minnesota last season, Jose Berrios has taken the league by storm in 2017. Heading into the break, the righty had allowed three or fewer earned runs in five of his past seven starts. Heís hoping that he can regain his form rather fast, but this is a tough matchup for him. Berrios allowed four earned runs in only five inning of work in a start against the Astros on May 30, and he needs to be better than that here. Offensively, the Twins are hoping that both 3B Miguel Sano (.276 BA, 21 HR, 62 RBI) and 2B Brian Dozier (.242 BA, 13 HR, 41 RBI) can storm out the gates on Friday. Sano was a monster in the first half of the year, and itíd be big if he can perform like that the rest of the way. Dozier, meanwhile, needs to be a lot better moving forward. He was one of the better power hitters in the league last season, but he has not flashed that ability in 2017.
If the Astros are going to repeat their tremendous start to the year then Charlie Morton must get his team off and running with a solid performance on Friday. Mortonís two starts before heading into the break were superb, as he let up only two earned runs in 13 innings of work. It is, however, hard to regroup after some time away from the team and itís possible he struggles a bit here. Regardless, the Astros have the bats to make up for whatever type of outing they get from Morton. In 2B Jose Altuve (.347 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI), SS Carlos Correa (.325 BA, 20 HR, 65 RBI) and OF George Springer (.310 BA, 27 HR, 61 RBI), the Astros have three of the starters for the AL All-Star team. All of them are capable of changing this game with one swing of the bat. Theyíre not the only ones either, as this lineup just might be the most dangerous in baseball.