ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers snapped an eight-game losing streak -- their longest in nine seasons -- with a very welcomed 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 38,111 Friday night at Globe Life Park.
Nick Tepesch limited the Twins to three hits in 7 1/3 shutout innings and Adrian Beltre staked the Rangers to a lead they would not relinquish with a two-run home run in the first inning. The win was the first for the Rangers (36-43) since outscoring the Oakland Athletics 14-8 on June 16.
Texas took a 5-0 lead into the ninth, but nothing comes easy for the Rangers. The Twins scored four and had the tying run at third with one out when Joakim Soria wiggled out of it with a strikeout and a ground ball.
A few observations:
Streak-breaker: Responsibility for breaking a long losing streak first has to go to the starting pitcher, and Tepesch (3-3) delivered. In addition to limiting the Twins to only three singles, he walked two and hit a batter. Of his 106 pitches, 67 were strikes.
In preparing the Globe Life Park infield minutes before the first pitch, grounds crew head man Dennis Klein made sure to give the dirt area in front of home plate a heavy soaking. Tepesch showed it to be a wise move, inducing 12 ground ball outs.
A key moment for Tepesch occurred in the fourth inning, and it didn’t involve a ground ball. Nursing a 2-0 lead, he slipped a third strike past Eduardo Escobar with two outs and the bases loaded, one of five punchouts for the 25-year-old.
On a roll: Beltre continued his torrid June, staking the Rangers to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a 381-foot, line-drive home run into the Texas bullpen. Beltre came into the game on a 9-for-14 streak over four games that saw his batting average climb 19 points to .325. An eighth-inning sacrifice fly gave him three RBIs for the night.
The home run was Beltre’s ninth, good for sole possession of the team lead -- one more than Michael Choice. All but one of Beltre’s home runs have come off right-handers.
A little D: The defensive play of the night came courtesy of second baseman Rougned Odor. The rookie speared a wicked one-hopper off the bat of Kendrys Morales in the second inning and almost made it look routine.
Relief is on the way: Needing to get only five outs thanks to Tepesch working into the eighth, Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts proved they haven’t forgotten how to pitch with a late-inning lead, but a rusty Soria struggled in a nonsave situation in the ninth.
Let’s get it started: Shin-Soo Choo, returning to the leadoff spot for the first time in 18 games, responded with a superb night at the plate. Choo lined singles in his first two trips and drove in the Rangers’ fourth run by crashing a double off the left-field wall. Choo scored ahead of Beltre’s homer in the first to give Texas a quick 2-0 lead.
Coming along: Look for switch-hitting Luis Sardinas to get more playing time as he continues to impress at the plate. The rookie infielder came into Friday’s game batting .370 over his past 10 games. He lined an opposite-field RBI double in the fourth inning.
Up next: The Rangers and Twins tangle in the middle game of the three-game series at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday at Globe Life Park. Rangers ace Yu Darvish (7-4, 2.62 ERA) will go against Phil Hughes (8-3, 3.40 ERA) on ESPN 103.3 FM.