Twins-Astros Preview

The Associated Press

Sweeps for the Minnesota Twins have been few and far between this season, but they've come a little easier against the Houston Astros.

The Twins will try to close out an impressive offensive series with another win in Houston on Wednesday.

Minnesota (61-76) opened the set with a 10-6 win Monday, tying a season high with four homers including a ninth-inning grand slam courtesy of Chris Colabello. The Twins nearly squandered Tuesday's game after All-Star Glen Perkins blew his fourth save, but they closed out a 9-6 win in 12 innings with Clete Thomas scoring the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and Darin Mastroianni tacking on a two-run double.

The Twins already swept Houston at home from Aug. 2-4. Their only other sweep of at least three games was against the Chicago White Sox from June 18-20.

Trevor Plouffe was 4 for 6 on Tuesday, hitting his 14th home run and extending his hitting streak to eight games. He's batting .328 over his last 16 contests with seven doubles and homers in each of his last two.

Brian Dozier also homered and owns a .917 on-base plus slugging over his last 28 games with eight homers and 20 RBIs.

Alex Presley also continues to give Minnesota a nice spark since being acquired from Pittsburgh last week in the Justin Morneau deal, going 5 for 14 in three games with three runs.

The Twins rank near the bottom of the AL with 133 homers but have recorded nine in their last five games.

That could mean trouble for Houston scheduled starter Jordan Lyles (6-7, 5.12 ERA). He is 2-1 with a 3.54 ERA over his last three starts but has also allowed five homers over his last 13 1-3 innings.

He limited Seattle to four hits and three runs over six innings of a 3-2 loss on Thursday, but all runs came on two homers.

"The stuff wasn't there throughout the game," Lyles said. "They put some really good swings on some pitches. My ball wasn't getting that downward action like I am used to, and a good offensive team will make you pay."

For Minnesota, Liam Hendriks (1-2, 5.13) likely comes in feeling confident after notching his second career win. It came almost a year after the first as he limited Texas to two runs - one earned - and five hits over six innings in a 3-2 road victory on Friday. He pitched opposite Yu Darvish, who had a no-hitter through six innings and fanned 11 batters.

"I don't care who it's against," Hendriks told the team's official website. "I just want to pile them up a little bit. But it was a big thing for my confidence. I relied pretty much solely on my sinker and my slider, and it paid off."

With All-Star Jason Castro day-to-day after spraining his right knee Monday, Houston went with Cody Clark behind the plate Tuesday. Clark was 0 for 4 and still seeks his first major league hit after 17 unsuccessful at-bats with seven strikeouts in his first six games. The Astros could also use Matt Pagnozzi after acquiring him from Atlanta for cash considerations.

Neither starting pitcher has faced the opposing team, though Presley is 4 for 11 off Lyles with a homer and a triple.

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