Griffin Jax slows Astros in best start of young career

They lead all of Major League Baseball in hits and runs scored. Batting average and on-base percentage, too. They’re second in slugging percentage and OPS, and they’ve been the hardest team to strikeout all year. The Houston Astros have been an offensive juggernaut all season long.

Given that context, Twins rookie Griffin Jax’s start on Thursday night at Minute Maid Park was all the more impressive. Jax cruised through his outing, at one point retiring 13 straight batters, and picked up his second major league win in the Twins’ 5-3 win over the Astros in Houston.

In the longest start of his young career, Jax made quick work of the Astros (65-43).

In the third inning, Jax needed just eight pitches to retire the side. In the fourth, it took 11 bullets to get three flyballs. It’s his third straight start in which he has given up just a run — the first a four-inning appearance, then a five-inning start followed by Thursday’s 5 1/3 innings — since giving up six runs in his first big league start.

Jax exited in the sixth inning after giving up a solo home run to former Twin Jason Castro and later a double to Chas McCormick. He only gave up one other hit all game.

Jax pitched with a lead for nearly his entire outing after the Twins (45-63) scored four runs on five hits in the second inning. Outfielder Rob Refsnyder, who returned on Thursday from a lengthy injured list stint, started the rally with a hit in his first at-bat in the majors since June 13. Miguel Sanó, Willians Astudillo and Trevor Larnach all followed with hits —Larnach’s a double — and after an Andrelton Simmons groundout, Jorge Polanco beat out an infield single, allowing the fourth run of the inning to score.

Refsnyder finished the day 2 for 3, adding a double, scoring a pair of runs and walking two more times. The outfielder had been sidelined since mid-June with a left hamstring strain.

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