MLB: Twins drop series finale to Rangers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Mitch Moreland had a career-high four hits and knocked in four runs as the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Thursday, salvaging the final game of a three-game series at Target Field.
MINNEAPOLIS - Mitch Moreland had a career-high four hits and knocked in four runs as the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 on Thursday, salvaging the final game of a three-game series at Target Field.
Moreland’s two-run homer in the fourth inning got the Rangers on the board after Texas fell behind by four runs early, and his two-run double in the fifth gave the Rangers the lead.
Minnesota tied the game at 5-5 on an RBI single by center fielder Aaron Hicks in the sixth inning, but Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus battled out of an 0-2 hole and drove in the winning run on a sacrifice fly off Twins reliever Casey Fien with nobody out in the eighth inning.
Rangers right-hander Keone Kela got the win, pitching 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Closer Shawn Tolleson worked a spotless ninth for his 21st save of the season.
Moreland upped his RBI total to 61, establishing a career high with nearly a third of the season still remaining.
“It was a good day,” Moreland said. “I got some pitches to hit and was able to get the barrel on them, for the most part.
“It was a big day for the team as well. We needed that one.”
Texas (56-57) snapped a three-game losing streak and moved back to within half a game of the Twins (57-57) in the American League wild-card standings. The Rangers head home to open a three-game series with Tampa Bay on Friday after going 2-4 in Seattle and Minnesota.
“We’ve gotta play with the grit every day the rest of the way, like we did today,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “The grit and the grind that it takes to play team baseball, that’s what you saw today. That was a team effort.”
The Rangers were in danger of being swept for the first time in more than a month, falling behind 4-0 after a four-run bottom of the second by Minnesota.
The Twins strung together five straight one-out hits, nearly knocking starter Chi Chi Gonzalez from the game.
First baseman Trevor Plouffe opened the barrage with a home run to left field, his 16th homer of the year. Left fielder Eddie Rosario and shortstop Eduardo Escobar each singled, and Rosario scored on a botched rundown of Escobar between first and second.
Catcher Chris Herrmann followed with an RBI double into the left-center-field gap and then scored on a double by left fielder Shane Robinson.
“The guys at the bottom of the lineup came through,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “You’ve just gotta hope you can find ways to keep adding on, but their guy did a nice job of shutting us down after that.”
Back-to-back walks later in the inning put two runners on for third baseman Miguel Sano, but he flied out to right field to end the threat.
The big out turned the tide for Gonzalez, who was able to get through 5 2/3 innings without allowing any more runs. He walked five and struck out four, retiring 11 of the final 14 men he faced.
“Gutsy performance,” Banister said. “Early on, it looked like it was going to be a challenge for him because he was struggling to get the ball down. Even the strikes he was throwing were in the middle to upper parts of the strike zone. Once he found the range and could get the ball down, then he could pitch up for effect.”
Texas clawed back on Moreland’s blast in the fourth then took the lead in the fifth, on designated hitter Prince Fielder’s RBI single and Moreland’s two-run double.
A leadoff single in the seventh knocked Twins starter Ervin Santana from the game. He gave up five runs on eight hits and a pair of walks. Santana has allowed at least five runs in three of his last four outings.
“Tough one inning; everything was up that (fifth) inning,” Santana said. “That’s why they did the damage.”
Hicks’ RBI single in the sixth tied the score at 5, but left fielder Shane Robinson was thrown out at the plate on the play, trying to score from first. Robinson’s potential run would have given Minnesota the lead.
“It was a winnable game,” Molitor said. “Kind of disappointing when you have a chance to complete a three-game sweep. We let this one slip away.”
Notes: Rangers RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock in time to make the start. ... Rangers RHP Nick Martinez was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock. Martinez is 7-7 with a 4.09 ERA in 21 starts this season with Texas. He took the loss on Wednesday, allowing seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. ... Rangers OF Josh Hamilton will have an MRI on his sore left knee on Friday. Hamilton went 1-for-3 with a walk in the series opener against the Twins on Tuesday but sat out the last two games. ... Twins RHP Phil Hughes was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore lower back. Hughes is 10-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 23 outings this season. ... RHP Trevor May is expected to replace Hughes in the rotation. May is 8-7 with a 4.09 ERA, but he has made his last 13 appearances out of the bullpen. ... Texas will return home Friday to open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Globe Life Park in Arlington. ... Minnesota continues its six-game homestand on Friday, opening a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians.