Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Twins 1
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Rookie Nick Tepesch gave up just one run and Elvis Andrus’ first RBI since April 13 was the difference as the Texas Rangers squeaked out a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
Tepesch A-OK: Tepesch appeared no worse for wear after leaving his previous start in the second inning following a line drive off his right wrist. The right-hander retired the first 12 Twins he faced on Thursday before Justin Morneau led off the fifth inning with a single. Tepesch held Minnesota scoreless through 6 1/3 innings before Josh Willingham’s solo home run ended the shutout. Morneau followed with a groundout, but Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe hit back-to-back singles to chase Tepesch from the game. With the Rangers clinging to a 2-1 lead, Robbie Ross induced a groundout from pinch hitter Ryan Doumit to end the threat.
Streaking (Part 1): Texas has won six times in its past seven games, its best stretch since winning six of seven to kick off April. The Rangers are now a season-best eight games over .500.
Sweat it out: Right-hander Tanner Scheppers loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning and Texas still holding a 2-1 advantage, giving up a single, double and intentional walk. But Scheppers induced a full-count, ground-ball double play from Willingham to end the threat. Former Twin Joe Nathan worked around a two-out single in the ninth inning for his seventh save.
What might have been: A night after notching a nine-run fourth inning, the Rangers were once again poised to open the floodgates early against Twins starter Vance Worley. But Nelson Cruz’s liner off the right-field wall to drive in Adrian Beltre caromed directly to Parmelee, who fired to second base to easily cut down Cruz for the inning’s second out. David Murphy followed with a walk and Mitch Moreland hit an infield single, but Leonys Martin popped out to end the threat. Texas forced 37 pitches from Worley in the frame but managed just the one run. The Rangers once again threatened a big inning in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out against reliever Josh Roenicke, but Moreland struck out and Martin fouled out to end the inning.
Out at second: Two innings after being thrown out at second base by Parmelee, Cruz was thrown out trying to steal second when Murphy swung and missed on a 3-2 slider. It was Cruz’s first stolen base attempt this season. After stealing 17 bases in 2010, Cruz has swiped just 17 bags since while being thrown out 10 times.
Cruz control: With a pair of singles and a walk, Cruz reached base three times on Friday for the third consecutive game. It marks the first time Cruz has accomplished the feat since reaching three times in three games from September 6-9, 2008.
Streaking (Part 2): A.J. Pierzynski’s single in the sixth inning pushed his hitting streak to six games, while Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to five with a fifth-inning double.
Baker nears return: Utility man Jeff Baker is expected to return to action on Friday. He has been out of the lineup since April 23 with a bruised left knee.
Up next: Justin Grimm (1-0, 2.70 ERA) looks to build on his career-high nine-strikeout performance his last time out. Twins left-hander Scott Diamond (1-1, 4.35 ERA) will face Texas for the first time since being ejected for throwing behind the head of Josh Hamilton last August. First pitch is 7:10 p.m. CT on TXA21, ESPN-FM 103.3 and in Spanish on 1540 AM.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.