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TWINS vs. ASTROS wild card preview

• Tuesday (1 p.m., Ch. 5)

Wednesday (noon, ESPN2) and, if necessary, Thursday at Target Field

No. 6 Astros

Houston and Milwaukee are the first teams in MLB history to make the playoffs with a losing record (29-31). The Astros' season started with forced apologies and manager A.J. Hinch suspended for a year because of the 2018 sign-stealing scandal. Team ace Justin Verlander had arm issues that ended his season and will force him to have Tommy John surgery. Dusty Baker, 71, became the first manager to take five different teams to the postseason.

No. 3 Twins

Defended their American League Central title at 36-24 thanks to a collapse down the stretch by the second-place White Sox. Injuries cost C Mitch Garver, 2B Luis Arraez, 3B Josh Donaldson and CF Byron Buxton time as the team had a dramatic drop in offensive production, but its team ERA was among MLB's best and pitching kept them in contention all season.

Probable starters

Game 1: RHP Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA) vs. RHP Kenta Maeda (6-1, 2.70)

Game 2: RHP Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73) vs. RHP Jose Berrios (5-4, 4.00)

Game 3: RHP Lance Mc-Cullers Jr. (3-3, 3.93) vs. RHP Michael Pineda (2-0, 3.38)

Key stats

Astros' road record: 9-23

Twins' home record: 24-7

Astros hitting leaders: Average, DH Michael Brantley .300; home runs, CF George Springer 14; RBI, LF Kyle Tucker 42; OBP, Brantley .364; slugging pct., Springer .540.

Twins hitting leaders: Average, DH Nelson Cruz .303; home runs, Cruz 16; RBI, LF Eddie Rosario 42; OBP, Cruz. 397; slugging pct., Cruz .595.

Astros pitching leaders: Wins, Cristian Javier 5-2, Framber Valdez 5-3; ERA, Andre Scrubb, 1.90; strikeouts, Valdez 76; saves, Ryan Pressly 12.

Twins pitching leaders: Wins, Kenta Maeda 6-1, Randy Dobnak 6-4; ERA, Matt Wisler, 1.07; strikeouts, Maeda 80; saves, Taylor Rogers nine.

Chris Miller