Minor pitches Rangers past Twins for 6th straight win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Mike Minor apparently isn't superstitious. Rolling along in June after a rough May, Minor didn't flinch when asked how he's feeling about his new mustache.
"I think I might take it off," the veteran left-hander said, adding that he's getting tired of the new look.
Everything else is working pretty well at the moment.
Minor threw six solid innings, Shin-Soo Choo homered and the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 on Friday night for their sixth consecutive victory.
Minor's sharp performance continued a string of solid outings by Texas starters, easing the blow of a roller-coaster news day for the team's minor league pitchers.
Aside from a 13-12 win at Colorado, Texas' pitching staff has held opponents in check during the streak; the Rangers have outscored their opponents 26-9 in the other five games.
"Our starting pitching has been quality for us in this stretch," manager Jeff Banister said. "We've played clean defense."
Minor (5-4) has thrown three straight quality starts for the first time since throwing six straight in 2014 for Atlanta. He allowed one run and three hits, lowering his June ERA to 2.84. Banister called it one of Minor's best starts this year.
"Yeah, just because they haven't been very good this year," Minor quipped when told of Banister's comment.
Minor faced the minimum number of batters through five innings despite a first-inning single by Brian Dozier to deep left. Dozier tried to stretch for second, but Joey Gallo had a good jump and easily threw him out to end the inning. Minor retired his next 12 batters before Max Kepler doubled in the sixth.
"He was good, especially early," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He didn't have to throw a lot of pitches, got some first-pitch outs leading off innings, which kind of hampers the next guy up."
Texas opened the fourth with three straight singles off Fernando Romero (3-3), including a run-scoring hit up the middle by Adrian Beltre. Rougned Odor then drove in Nomar Mazara with a fielder's choice.
Choo's two-run shot off Romero made it 4-0 in the fifth.
Chris Martin got three outs before Jesse Chavez finished for his first save. Choo, Mazara and Beltre each drove in runs off Matt Belisle in the ninth.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"I forgot to turn my invisible powers on hoping he wouldn't see me, but he did," Dozier said of getting thrown out at second after his single in the first.
Texas had both good and bad pitching news in the minors on Friday. Joe Palumbo will continue his comeback from Tommy John surgery when he starts for the Arizona League Rangers on Sunday, and Martin Perez (elbow) is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment for Class-A Hickory on Monday. On the other hand, prospect Alex Speas is set for Tommy John surgery, and Yohander Mendez — demoted to Triple-A this week for breaking unspecified team rules — was sent all the way down to Class A on Friday. The team said the move was not punitive.
WHAT A PLAY
Dozier made a diving grab at second to begin a flashy inning-ending double play in the seventh.
It was Choo's second homer on Texas' six-game road trip, and Friday marked his 35th straight game reaching base — the longest such streak of his 16-year career.
"I know people always talk about it, the TV, my teammates," Choo said. "A lot of people talk about it, but I tell myself I just focus every at-bat."
Minnesota lost by seven for the second straight night. The Twins finally broke through in the sixth when Joe Mauer's one-out double scored Kepler, putting runners on second and third. But Minor retired Eddie Rosario and Dozier on popups, ending the threat.
Rangers: Martin (calf) was reinstated from the 10-day DL. Texas optioned Ricardo Rodriguez to Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday to make room for Martin, who was hurt while attempting to run onto the field during a benches-clearing brawl with the Dodgers last month. ... Banister said he expects Perez to work at least three innings. ... Sunday will mark Palumbo's first action since April 2017.
Twins: Rosario went 0 for 4 after missing a game with shoulder soreness. ... INF Eduardo Escobar pinch-hit in the eighth after taking a pitch to the elbow Thursday against Boston. Molitor said before the game he was optimistic Escobar would be ready to start Saturday. ... RHP Ervin Santana (finger) threw 35 pitches to hitters on Friday. "He said it's one of the better days he's had in a while, so I was encouraged by that," Molitor said.
Rangers: Yovani Gallardo (0-0) will make his second start of 2018 after exiting Sunday's game against Colorado trailing 5-1.
Twins: RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-4) makes his seventh career start against the Rangers and first of the season. He's 4-0 with a 2.02 ERA against Texas.