Five two-out runs were the difference in the Rangers’ third consecutive victory, backing up a quality start from Nick Tepesch in a 7-2 defeat of the Minnesota Twins on the road.
With two outs in the fifth, the Rangers recorded three consecutive hits and the go-ahead runs on a two-run double laced into the left-center field gap by Elvis Andrus. Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo, who preceded the Andrus double with two-out singles, scored on the play.
Between the second and fifth innings, a combined 15 consecutive hitters were retired by the two starters, Tepesch and Kevin Correia, before the Rangers strung together their two-out rally.
The Rangers struck again with two out in the eighth, as Chris Gimenez lined a two-RBI double down the left field line and Leonys Martin followed with an RBI single through the right side of the infield. Gimenez scored from second, narrowly avoiding a tag at the plate.
Alex Rios extended his hitting streak to nine games with a one-out single in the second. He stole second and came around to score on a Gimenez liner that ricocheted off the shoe of the Twins’ starter.
The ball shot several feet away from Correia, who picked it up and threw wide of first, allowing Rios to score and move Gimenez to second. Michael Choice drove in Gimenez with an opposite-field smash off the right field wall.
Both runs were earned despite Correia’s throwing error.
Gimenez has recorded seven hits in 17 at-bats (.412 BA) over four games since being brought up from Triple-A Round Rock. J.P. Arencibia, who Gimenez replaced on the Big League club, managed just eight hits in 60 at-bats (.133 BA) before his demotion to the minor league ranks.
Rios added a line shot off the left field wall for a double in the sixth. He’s hitting .410 (16-for-39) over his nine-game hit streak. He told Fox Sports’ John Rhadigan before the game that the key to the Rangers’ success at the plate has been being aggressive early in the count.
In the three wins against the Tigers, Texas hitters showed patience by working a total of 17 walks. However, they earned just one walk Monday, an intentional free pass to Rios in the eighth inning. Rios hadn’t reached on a walk since May 8 against Boston.
Tepesch allowed a solo home run to Trevor Plouffe in the first inning, and gave up a second run on the combination of a hit batter and two singles in the second.
The 25-year-old righty retired the next seven batters after the RBI single from Eduardo Escobar and posted a series of zeroes from that point forward. He saved a run by picking off Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks in the sixth inning. Escobar would double with the bases empty in the next at-bat.
It was the bottom of the Twins’ order that got to Tepesch, as the 7-8-9 hitters recorded five hits in the game. Tepesch, who worked into the seventh inning for the second straight start, minimized the damage, surrendering just a 2-for-17 output from the rest of the Minnesota lineup.
Gimenez cited a strong rapport with Tepesch in an interview with Fox Sports after the game. In his four games with Texas, he has a 2.25 catcher's ERA. Robinson Chirinos has a 3.95 CERA this year, while that number stood at 5.50 for Arencibia.
Jason Frasor and Neal Cotts combined to pitch a scoreless final 2.1 innings in relief of Tepesch. The Twins recorded just one hit in each of the last two innings.
The Rangers won two challenges Monday. Oswaldo Arcia was ruled out attempting to stretch a double into a triple in the first inning. A deep fly ball off the bat of Arcia fell as Martin lost it in the afternoon sun at Minnesota's now-open-roofed stadium. An out call at first stood in the sixth inning on a grounder to Adrian Beltre.
Game two of the four-game set is slated for 7:10 p.m. in Minneapolis with Yu Darvish on the bump.