Houston,TX – Twins- Louie Varland was pitching so well against the Astros on Wednesday that he got restless waiting in the dugout.

“I hate waiting around in those long innings,” Varland said. “I know we have to have those innings to score runs. But for me, as a pitcher, I want to be out there right away and keep the momentum going.”

When he did take the mound, Varland hardly seemed to break a sweat in his seven shutout innings in the Twins’ resounding 8-2 win in the series finale at Minute Maid Park.

His efficient 86-pitch outing, including a six-pitch second and seven-pitch third, also helped the Twins’ lineup get to a laboring Hunter Brown. The Astros starter threw 36 pitches in the third inning, which included a two-run single from Donovan Solano that seemed to finally break Minnesota’s cold streak at the plate with runners on each base.

“[Varland] made life difficult on their side of the field because their guy kept having to run out there immediately,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I think those really quick turnarounds took something out of [Brown] a little bit.”

The Twins (29-27) ended a rocky May with their second series win over the defending World Series champions. Here’s three takeaways from the club’s third series win of the month:

Varland throws his best start yet
When the 25-year-old right-hander was asked whether Wednesday was his best start yet in the Major Leagues, he responded with zero hesitation: “Yeah.”

He was also pretty direct in his start. Varland challenged the Astros, throwing his cutter in the zone to induce weak ground-ball contact early in the count over and over again. The result was a stark contrast between the two teams: long, grinding at-bats for Brown compared to innings that seemingly ended before they even started for Varland.

“He was believing in his stuff today and executing with his stuff today at a really high level,” Baldelli said.

After struggling in his second start this year vs. the White Sox on May 3, Varland has now strung together five strong starts, averaging just over six innings with a 2.67 ERA during that stretch.

“It’s a huge confidence booster, that’s for sure,” Varland said.

Solano breaks bases-loaded curse
Solano’s two-run single in the third inning snapped a Twins 0-for-15 slump with the bases loaded. On a night where Baldelli elected to sit Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton for rest, Solano batted second and came up clutch.

“I know we’re getting close in that situation,” Solano said. “I know we missed a lot of opportunities to get runs. But we can’t think about it. We can’t make more pressure on us. We, as a team, talk about [how] we need to take that at-bat like a normal at-bat.”

And that’s exactly what the first baseman did. Staying home on a fastball, he lined the pitch to right field for the first two runs.

From then on, with the dam broken, Minnesota continued to pile on runs. Ryan Jeffers cemented the end of the bases-loaded woes by smashing a two-run double in the fifth. Solano followed with his own two-run double in the sixth, driving in Willi Castro and Michael A. Taylor — who both reached base three times — for the second time.

Kirilloff can’t stop getting on base
Alex Kirilloff has been seeing the ball better than anybody in the game recently. He drew two or more walks in three straight games entering Wednesday, including a 2-for-2, three-walk game in the series opener Monday, the first time Kirilloff reached base safely five times in his career.

So in the first inning, when he battled in a 12-pitch at-bat and received a fastball on the edge of the bottom of the strike zone, Kirilloff thought he had drawn a walk, calmly sliding off his batting gloves for yet another free pass.

Home-plate umpire Adam Hamari signaled strike three instead. But Kirilloff bounced back, hitting two singles, collecting an RBI and scoring a run.

For the series, Kirilloff reached base safely in 10 of his 14 plate appearances, and his .448 OBP would rank first among all hitters if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. Even more importantly, he’s found a groove at the plate and earned effusive praise from his skipper.

“AK’s been very selective but still aggressive when the ball is where he wants to swing,” Baldelli said. “He’s looked confident up there. He’s laid off a lot of tough pitches.

“Early in his career, he was probably going up to the plate just ready to swing at anything that he could reach. Right now, that’s not what we’re getting from him. … We’re getting quality Major League at-bats.”