As always, Houston, with its winning attitude, and Twins with the loser

MINNEAPOLIS – Tainted by scandal before this season and grimy during it, the Houson Astros entered the playoffs with their usual confidence and winning attitude.

And in a tris, they have the advantage over the Minnesota Twins, who will play a game of life and death, with a lousy record on their shoulders.

Jose Altuve traded a bases loaded walk into the lead run in the ninth inning, and Houston beat Minnesota 4-1 at the start of their playoff series on Tuesday night.

Venezuelan Altuve’s walk came after an error by Dominican shortstop Jorge Polanco, with two outs.

Thus, the unprecedented streak of the Twins, who have lost 17 consecutive games in the postseason, was extended since they last won on October 5, 2004 against the New York Yankees when they opened the American League Division Series.

“My boys know how to fight. They know what this is about, ”said manager Dusty Baker, whose Astros became the first team in major league history to win a playoff game after qualifying with a negative record. “They know how to win and they take pride in what they do.”

The second game in the series to a maximum of three is scheduled for this Wednesday, also at Target Field.

Michael Brantley hit a two-run single in the ninth inning after Sergio Romo of Mexico ticketed Altuve, the 2017 AL MVP, who has had a low-key season with the bat.

“He decided not to go for an inside pitch, which didn’t work for me,” said Romo, who had three World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants and pitched in his 30th postseason game. “It was hard that that happened to me.”

Framber Valdez, who made 10 starts in the regular season for the Astros, solved five scoreless innings, as a relief for Zack Greinke, and scored the win. Houston’s bullpen stayed cool for the rest of the series.

Valdez allowed just two hits in the ninth with one out. However, the game ended with a double play on a ground ball by Venezuelan Willians Astudillo.

Rocco Baldelli, the Twins’ manager, sent Romo, the fifth of six pitchers, to the mound to start the ninth inning. The Astros loaded the bases with two singles and then came the error from Polanco, who controlled a ground ball but threw too low at second, preventing a force out.