Urquidy won Game 4 of the World Series as a rookie last October, and pitched well again Wednesday. But he has made only 12 career regular-season starts, and without headliners like Justin Verlander, who needs Tommy John surgery, and Gerrit Cole, who signed with the Yankees, the Astros are leaning heavily on lesser-known pitchers this year.
The left-hander Framber Valdez made his postseason debut on Tuesday, relieving the veteran Zack Greinke after four innings and shutting out the Twins the rest of the way. On Wednesday, the rookie Cristian Javier fired three hitless, scoreless relief innings to earn the win.
After that game, catcher Martin Maldonado said, the pitching coach Brent Strom complimented him for guiding Valdez and Javier through tight spots. Maldonado said he deflected the credit to the pitchers.
“I told him, from the bottom of my heart, the reason why we’re here is because of them,” Maldonado said. “Valdez and Javier, they pitched like they’ve been here 20 years.”
The Astros did not hit well against the Twins, going 13 for 67 (.194), and while several 2017 stalwarts remain — Correa, José Altuve, Alex Bregman, George Springer, Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel — the offense is generally mediocre. The Astros averaged 4.65 runs a game this season, matching the major-league average.
But there was also this: Houston’s hitters had the fewest strikeouts in the majors, just as they did in the tainted season of 2017. That year may always haunt the Astros, but in Minnesota, at least, they moved on — in more ways than one.
“It means a lot, honestly,” Correa said. “We’ve had a tough year since the start of spring training, but now it’s all about playing great baseball.”