The Rangers won their second straight series and second consecutive one-run game with a comeback, 5-4 victory over the Twins Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis.
A comeback wouldn’t have been possible without the speed of Leonys Martin, who motored home for each of the last two runs.
Martin led off the eighth inning with a line-shot double off the right-center field scoreboard before moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by Robinson Chirinos. The speedy center fielder crossed home on a medium-deep sac fly by Rougned Odor, beating a lunging tag from Twin catcher Josmil Pinto.
Odor, who used four different bats in his four plate appearances Thursday, hit the sac fly on a 3-2 count.
Martin also got on board with a one-out double in the sixth. His first double struck the top of the 23-foot-high right field wall at Target Field, bounding back sharply to right fielder Oswaldo Arcia. Martin eluded an out at second base with a shrewd hook slide.
He would score the tying run on a single to left from Chirinos. It was the second straight game in which the winning run came in the form of Martin, as he stole second and scored on a single in Wednesday night's 1-0 win.
Rookie starter Nick Martinez was not in his best form on the mound, allowing a season-high nine hits in 5.2 innings of work Thursday. He recorded just one ground ball out, an anomaly even in his low-ground-ball-rate 2014 season (33 percent).
"He was out there scuffling the whole day, just couldn't find his rhythm,” manager Ron Washington told Fox Sports after the game. “But it was a learning experience for him to go out there and keep his team in the game when he doesn’t have his best stuff.”
The Twins hit four singles in the third inning, including RBI hits from Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham. Willingham would later send a Martinez pitch into the second deck on the first pitch he saw for a two-out, two-run blast to catapult the Twins in front 4-3 in the fifth.
Minnesota center fielder Danny Santana went 3-for-3 Thursday, including a single to right on Martinez’s 108th pitch. Santana would be the last batter faced on the afternoon for Martinez.
The 23-year-old Ranger didn’t factor into the decision despite his less-than-Nick-Martinez stuff, as he left in a 4-4 tie.
Shin-Soo Choo delivered a two-out, three-run double in the second inning to clear the bases and give the Rangers the early 3-0 lead. Thursday marked Choo's third multi-RBI game of the year, and just his second while hitting in the leadoff spot.
"That's what he's best at, is staying inside the baseball and going to the opposite field," Washington said. "We certainly needed that and it helped jumpstart us."
Singles from Alex Rios, who extended his hit streak to 12 games, and Michael Choice led off the inning before Leonys Martin drew a walk to put three Rangers on base. Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor struck out before Choo capitalized on the bases-loaded opportunity.
Choo had been batting just .197 in his last 20 games entering play Thursday.
Alexi Ogando threw 1.1 innings of scoreless ball before Jason Frasor retired the Twins in order in the eighth. Neal Cotts and Joakim Soria split the ninth inning, with Soria recording his tenth save of the year on his third consecutive day of work.
The source of a lot of Minnesota’s damage Thursday, Josh Willingham, was caught looking at a 67 mph curve from Soria for the game’s final out.
Texas has won seven of its last nine games. The Rangers will head to Washington, D.C. for a three-game weekend set with the Nationals, who now occupy the city where the Rangers’ franchise began.