Rangers’ bats stay hot in win at Minnesota
MINNEAPOLIS — The Texas Rangers took advantage of their chances late in innings Monday, scoring a 7-2 win over the slumping Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
The Twins, who entered the day on a three-game losing streak, were able to get two outs without getting into trouble routinely on Monday. But the Rangers remained patient, scoring all seven of their runs with two away, plating two runs apiece in the second and fifth innings before breaking the game open with a three-run eighth.
For Texas, it was another offensive outburst. The Rangers have won three in a row and five of six, scoring a total of 40 runs in their last four victories, including 31 during their three-game win streak.
“That’s something we made a point of on the flight over here (from Detroit),” Rangers catcher Chris Gimenez said. “Just to continue to think the same thoughts, have the same sort of approach at the plate and it definitely carried over. And we need it, we need it to continue to stay that way. The more runs we can score the better off we will be.”
With the game knotted at two in the fifth inning, Texas had three straight two-out hits to take the lead for good, getting singles from second baseman Rougned Odor and designated hitter Shin-Soo Choo before a double by shortstop Elvis Andrus ran the gap to the wall in left-center, scoring both runners.
“We couldn’t finish off innings,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We had a couple of innings our there where we couldn’t finish them off. A hot baseball team doing a lot of good things over there, they’re scoring runs and they did it again.”
The game remained 4-2 into the eighth inning until Texas added three more runs against Twins right-hander Jared Burton. Andrus led the inning off with a single and stole second. After a pair of fly outs, right fielder Alex Rios was intentionally walked. Both Andrus and Rios scored on a double to left by Gimenez, who came across on a single by center fielder Leonys Martin.
The offensive support backed up a good start from righty Nick Tepesch, who settled down after giving up single runs in the first and second innings. He retired seven in a row through the fourth inning and 14 of the final 17 batters he faced, working 6 2/3 innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked none in bumping his record to 2-0.
“He started making pitches after that second inning,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Tepesch. “He was able to get us into the seventh inning, I was praying he could get us through that seventh, but he had done enough.”
Minnesota went ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first on a 413-foot home run to center by third baseman Trevor Plouffe. After an infield single, an error and an RBI double by left fielder Michael Choice made it 2-1 Texas in the second, Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar blooped an RBI single into right, tying the game at 2-2.
Twins starter Kevin Correia took the loss, allowing four runs (all earned) on seven hits in seven innings of work. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out five, falling to 2-6 on the year.
Minnesota, which has now failed to score more than two runs in five straight games, got two big bats back in the lineup Monday as outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia returned from injury. Neither was a factor in the game, however, as Willingham went 0-for-3 with a hit by pitch and Arcia 1-for-4 with a double. Arcia was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple.
Gardenhire said the hope is those two can help rejuvenate the Twins’ stagnant bats.
“Another day where offensively we just didn’t get it done,” Gardenhire said. “Right now, we have to figure out how to put some more runs on the board and take the pressure off the pitching.”
Both teams will throw their best pitchers in game two of the four-game series on Tuesday as the Rangers will send righty Yu Darvish to the hill (4-2, 2.35 ERA). Minnesota will counter with right-hander Phil Hughes (5-1, 3.15 ERA).
Notes: Twins LF Josh Willingham returned to the lineup after coming off the 15-day disabled list. Willingham missed 41 games with a fractured left wrist. ... Twins RF Oswaldo Arcia also returned to the big league lineup after missing time with a hand injury. Arcia was activated from the DL three weeks ago and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester to get swings and his timing back and played in 22 games with the Red Wings. ... Rangers RF Alex Rios went 2-for-3 with a walk and now has multiple hits in six straight games. ... Texas manager Ron Washington managed his 1,186th game Monday, tying Bobby Valentine for the most in Rangers history.