HOUSTON (AP) — Minnesota rookie Chris Colabello admitted he was putting too much pressure on himself as he struggled through a terrible offensive skid.
Once he settled down, he started to feel better at the plate and on Monday he broke out of his slump in a big way.
Colabello homered twice, including a tiebreaking grand slam in the ninth inning, to lift the Minnesota Twins to a 10-6 win over the Houston Astros.
It was 6-all before Chia-Jen Lo (0-3) allowed a single to Brian Dozier with one out in the ninth. Doug Bernier and Chris Herrmann drew two-out walks on full-count pitches before Colabello hit the next pitch into the bullpen in right-center.
It was the first career grand slam for the 29-year-old Colabello, who ended a 0-for-23 skid with a single on Sunday. He spent years playing Independent League baseball before signing with the Twins last season.
“Having spent as much time as I did in (independent) league ball I wanted to impress people,” he said. “Any time you get into a new environment you want to go out and impress people every day and you kind of get yourself out of your element and things get a little out of character there. When you do that, it’s very hard to be yourself.”
“The biggest goal for a hitter is to go out and be yourself,” he continued. “Trust your approach. Trust what you do. Believe in what got you here and then go from there. Today was a good step in that direction.”
Manager Ron Gardenhire was impressed with his performance on Monday.
“That was pretty nice swings driving the ball,” he said. “That’s a big day for him; we needed it.”
The Twins trailed 5-1 after two innings, but chipped away at the lead with the help of solo homers by Trevor Plouffe, Colabello and Dozier. A two-out RBI single by Pedro Florimon tied it in the eighth.
Plouffe tied a career high with three hits and Dozier’s home run gives him 16 this season, which ties a franchise record for a second baseman.
Chris Carter and Jason Castro drove in two runs apiece and Jose Altuve tied a career high with four hits for the Astros, who have lost six of seven.
Josh Roenicke (3-1) pitched two hitless innings for the win.
Minnesota starter Andrew Albers allowed nine hits and five runs, tying career highs, in 1 2-3 innings.
“Today I left a lot of balls up and left a lot of balls right over the middle and they made me pay,” he said. “It obviously wasn’t a very good day.”
Houston’s Paul Clemens allowed seven hits and four runs in 3 2-3 innings in his second major league start after making 30 relief appearances.
Trevor Crowe hit an RBI single that capped a three-run first for Houston.
Plouffe homered in the second. The Astros scored twice in their half.
“Offensively we swung the bats well early and could not get anything after that,” manager Bo Porter said. “Their bullpen did a good job of holding it right there and gave their offense a chance for the late inning rally that they put together.”
Castro, Houston’s All-Star catcher, was injured in the second inning. He hit an RBI single, which skidded down the left field line to make it 4-1.
Castro left the game after the hit. He appeared to injure himself on the swing on a foul ball the pitch before the single.
He trotted slowly to first base on the hit and chatted with the team trainer and Porter for a couple of minutes before being replaced by Cody Clark.
The injury leaves Clark as Houston’s only healthy catcher. Carlos Corporan and Max Stassi are both on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
Porter didn’t have an update on Castro after the game.
“I’ll wait and see what the doctor says,” he said. “I don’t want to jump to any conclusions.”
NOTES: The series continues tomorrow when Houston rookie Jarred Cosart (1-1) opposes Pedro Hernandez (3-1). … Longtime former Astros radio broadcaster Milo Hamilton was at the ballpark on Monday to celebrate his 86th birthday.
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