BY: Richard W. Humphrey
The Texas Rangers went on the road this week and won two series – five games in all. After sweeping the Royals in Kansas City to start the week, they moved on to Minneapolis to take two of three games against the Minnesota Twins. The Rangers have now won five road series and are barely under .500 on the road at 19-21.
They opened the series with an 8-1 win over Minnesota. That score is deceiving as Fernando Romero got off to a good start for the Twins. He held the Rangers hitless over the first three innings. In the fourth, the Rangers finally touched Romero for a hit – three to be exact – all singles. Those hits drove in one run and a ground out plated another to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. Shin-Soo Choo doubled the lead to 4-0 with a two run home run in the fifth inning.
Mike Minor was the Ranger starter, and he pitched well again. He shut out the Twins over the first five innings on one hit. A pair of doubles in the sixth scored a run for Minnesota, cutting the lead to 4-1.
That was all for Minor – one run on three hits over six innings. His record went to 5-4 with the win.
Chris Martin and Jesse Chavez pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, and the Rangers were set to bring in closer Keone Kela for the save in the ninth. The Ranger hitters had other ideas though. They put together an old fashioned four run rally in the top of the ninth. It was old fashioned in the sense that there were no home runs. They strung together hits and three of the runs scored with two outs.
With a seven run cushion, Kela sat down and watched Chavez polish off the Twins in the ninth inning. He earned his first save of the year.
Yovani Gallardo made his second Ranger start since re-joining the team on Saturday afternoon. The Twins took an early 2-0 lead when Joe Mauer singled and Eddie Rosario homered as the first two batters in the bottom of the first inning.
Texas answered with six runs in the top of the second to take charge of the game. It was another old fashioned rally that included five singles, a double, a walk and a hit batsman. The Rangers weren’t done though. Robinson Chirinos hit a two run home run in the third inning, and Adrian Beltre hit a solo shot in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 9-2.
Gallardo was much better pitching with the lead. He shut out Minnesota in the next four innings. His day ended in the sixth inning when a one out walk was followed by a home run, cutting the Ranger lead to 9-4.
Tony Barnette got the last two outs of the sixth inning, and Matt Moore relieved Barnette. Moore gave up no runs and only one hit, while striking out three batters in the seventh and eighth innings. Moore started the ninth inning in search of the rare three out save. It didn’t go well. He retired the first batter, but three straight singles loaded the bases and ended Moore’s stay on the mound.
The tying run was on deck when Kela relieved Moore, so it was a save situation. Kela immediately gave up a two run double to cut the Ranger lead to three at 9-6 with the tying run on base. What once looked like a laugher had suddenly become a nail biter.
However, Kela settled in to strike out, walk and strike out the next three batters to end the game. It was his 18th save of the year. Gallardo is 1-0 with the win.
Saturday’s win pushed the Rangers’ winning streak to a season high seven games. That streak ended Sunday when up and coming right-hander Jose Berrios pitched a marvelous game. He gave up a lead-off double on the first pitch of the game to Shin-Soo Choo, and just two more hits over the first seven innings of the game. He struck out 12 batters to earn his eighth win against five losses.
Berrios’s gem negated an outstanding start from Bartolo Colon. Colon scattered seven hits over seven innings that the Twins were able to cash in for two runs. The final score was 2-0 when two Twins relievers set down the six Ranger batters they faced in the eighth and ninth innings, including Fernando Rodney striking out the side to earn the save, his 17th this year. Colon is 4-5 with the loss.
The Rangers are back home this week for a three series home stand of eight games in 10 days. First up are the San Diego Padres for games Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Texas went 3-1 against San Diego last year and is 19-16 all time against this National League opponent. The Rangers are 2-3 so far this year in interleague play. The announced starting pitchers are Cole Hamels, Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Mike Minor.
* Shin-Soo Choo extended his streak of reaching base to 37 games, a career high and the second longest on-base streak of 2018 in the Majors. Former Ranger farm hand Odubel Herrera reached base in 40 consecutive games earlier this year.
* Jurickson Profar tied the club record which he had set two weeks earlier by getting hit by a pitch three times in Saturday’s game.
* Adrian Beltre had six hits in the series to push his career total over 3,100 at 3,102. Beltre is 22nd on the all time hit list, trailing number 21 Dave Winfield by eight hits.