Rangers avoid being swept by Twins
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 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.
“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.
Trevor Plouffe opened the barrage with a home run to left field, his 16th homer of the year. Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar each singled, and Rosario scored on a botched rundown of Escobar between first and second.
Chris Herrmann followed with an RBI double and then scored on a double by 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 Miguel Sano, but he flied out 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 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.”