Things appear to be going from bad to worse for the Minnesota Twins as they prepare to take on the Houston Astros in a three-match series.
Not only have they lost an important series against the Texas Rangers on Monday night, they also will miss centre-fielder Byron Buxton, who exited the game with right-hip tightness and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli was unsure if he would be available for the trip to Houston.
The Astros have a six-game home stand starting with a three-game series against the Twins, as Minute Maid Park welcomes back former Astro Carlos Correa - Justin Verlander will be waiting on the mound for his former team-mate.
Minnesota Twins vs. Houston Astros, Game one of three
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
01:10, Wednesday 24th August 2022
|How to watch||MLB.TV, bet365 Sports Live Streaming platform|
MIN Twins 14/5, HOU Astros 5/18
Minnesota team boss Baldelli reflected after the series defeat to the Rangers and also about the injury blow, as he revealed that Buxton's hip had also been hurting him for a good part of the season.
The Twins won't know if Buxton requires a stint on the injured list until they receive results of an MRI scan he will undergo.
There have been many times this year where the Twins' management have thought about taking him out of games and maybe giving him 10-15 days’ rest. They may not have a choice this time.
Baldelli spoke to the official Twins website about Buxton after the defeat to the Rangers, saying: "He had a few things go on today where you could tell he was really feeling it.
"Over the last few days he's been in a spot where he's been on the verge of not being able to go out there, not being able to swing or run. But he's continued to go out there and play at not a high percentage of what he can normally do, physically."
The Twins have promoted right-handed pitcher Aaron Sanchez to start game one of the three-game series with Houston.
Sanchez's last start came against the Detroit Tigers at the beginning of August, where he gave up two earned runs and struck out eight batters. The 29-year-old has a 3-3 record with a 7.68 ERA this season.
The Astros avoided the sweep against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday largely thanks to designated hitter Yordan Alvarez.
The 25-year-old Cuban-born player was admitted to hospital on Friday evening after exiting the game in the fifth inning complaining of illness. Thankfully all tests came back normal and he returned to the line-up for the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
And Alvarez proved that he had recovered when he hit a game-tying two-run single in the third inning.
Speaking to the official Astros website, team manager Dusty Baker said: "It's a big lift when you get the big man in the third spot. He changes the whole complexion of the game. Whether it's hitting or they're pitching around him (with) runners on base."
Houston now begin a six-game home stand, starting against the Twins, followed by three games at home to the Baltimore Orioles.
Baker added: "One thing we wanted to do is be the best road team in baseball, especially with our record of road games early. Now, guys can hopefully get a rest, go home and start again."
Justin Verlander is having a stellar season and is in full contention for another Cy Young Award.
The 39-year-old is a nine-time All-Star and already has two Cy Young awards to his name and a World Series ring in 2017 with the Astros.
Verlander has a 15-3 record with a 1.95 ERA this season. He has won four of his last five games against the Twins, including earlier this season when he pitched eight innings, giving up no runs and striking out five with two walks.
Houston won all three encounters earlier in the season in Minnesota. The Twins did win four of the seven encounters last season, including winning three out of four at Minute Maid Park.
Overall, Houston has won 39 matches to Minnesota's 35.