MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Gerrit Cole got a big play from his shortstop and settled in for a superb performance.
After Cole walked the first two batters of the game, Carlos Correa made a backhanded snag of Nelson Cruz’s hard grounder to start a double play. Cole dominated from there, allowing one hit in seven innings, and the Houston Astros backed him with three homers in an 11-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.
“Carlos is a good player,” Cole said. “That’s how I did it. Then I just got better feel for the breaking stuff as it went on.”
Cole (2-4) struck out 11 and gave up his only hit in the sixth inning as the Astros broke out offensively to win a meeting of division leaders and snap the Twins’ four-game winning streak.
After losing the series opener 1-0, Houston added to its franchise record for April homers on Tuesday. George Springer, Jake Marisnick and Alex Bregman went deep, giving the Astros 43 for the month.
“Swung the bats very, very well,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Gerrit Cole was exceptional. Put those two things together, and we’re going to win.”
It was Cole’s fourth game with double-figure strikeouts this season. He walked three. Max Kepler had the only hit off Cole, a double off the right-field wall with one out in the sixth.
“Once he started pitching with his fastball and doing what he wanted to with it, he had our number,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He was able to take over the at-bats and command those at-bats.”
Cole, who came in tied for the major league lead in strikeouts, now has recorded a strikeout in every current MLB stadium.
“I just tried to fill up the zone in the second and try to find where the middle of the zone was,” Cole said. “I just got better command of my off-speed stuff, and I was able to just attack the zone better.”
Relievers Josh James and Chris Devenski completed the three-hitter.
Kepler had two hits for the Twins, who have hit 50 home runs in their first 27 games.
Springer had an RBI double in the third and homered on the first pitch of the fifth.
Marisnick and Bregman homered as part of a four-run sixth. Houston’s 11 runs were its highest total of the season. The Astros set a season high with five doubles.
“It was a complete team win,” Bregman said. “It was nice to see.”
Marisnick hit a two-run shot to chase Michael Pineda (2-2), who allowed five runs on a season-high nine hits in five-plus innings.
“You always try to get better and be better,” Pineda said. “Tonight, for me, I made two mistakes that were hit for homers. Those weren’t the pitches that I wanted to throw. I hung my first slider a little bit. Those weren’t the pitches that I wanted, but that happens sometimes.”
MILESTONE FOR HINCH
Tuesday’s win was the 392nd for Hinch as Astros manager. That tied him for third place in franchise history. He’s tied with Art Howe, who managed Houston from 1989-93. Hinch played for Howe in Oakland.
“The players have created a lot of wins here,” Hinch said. “I’m proud to be their manager, and to have my name next to Art is pretty surreal for me. That’s the first manager I ever knew in the big leagues. He’s the first man to put me in the lineup, and now here I am with him being talked about as manager wins in Houston. Pretty awesome for me.”
Twins: Pineda was hit in the leg by a line drive off the bat of Michael Brantley in the fifth inning but stayed in the game. ... INF Miguel Sano (right heel laceration) went 0-for-1 with a walk Tuesday in his rehab assignment for Single-A Fort Myers.
Astros minor leaguer J.J. Matijevic was suspended 50 games Tuesday after a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Matijevic, a 2017 second-round pick, is batting .240 for Double-A Corpus Christi.
LHP Martin Perez (3-0, 4.44 ERA) will start for the Twins against RHP Collin McHugh (3-2, 4.78) in the third game of the four-game series. The teams will conclude their season series on Thursday. All seven games are in a span of 11 days.