A controversial no-call and a walk-off error provided a bitter end to Tuesday night’s game as the Twins plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth to earn a 4-3 comeback win over the Rangers.
With two outs in the final half-inning and a runner on second base, Kurt Suzuki grounded to third base. Adrian Beltre snagged the ground ball and opted to try to tag Eduardo Nunez at third rather than throw across the diamond for the third out.
Nunez avoided the tag, circling behind Beltre - seemingly well out of the basepath - before sliding into the back side of the bag. Eduardo Escobar was intentionally walked to load the bases, paving the way for Danny Santana - a ninth-inning defensive replacement - to step up to the plate and hit a 25-foot dribbler between the mound and the third base line.
Joakim Soria couldn’t get a handle on it, and Santana was safe without a throw.
The first of the two ninth-inning runs scored on an RBI single from Nunez, scoring Oswaldo Arcia. It was Soria’s first blown save of the season.
Texas wasn’t without its chances in the one-run loss.
Alex Rios was a homer shy of the cycle and scored a run in the game. But the Rangers, who have been so effective capitalizing on scoring chances over the last week, squandered two opportunities to bring home their right fielder.
Rios led off the fourth inning with a double. Chris Gimenez failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt, Leonys Martin struck out looking and Murphy grounded out to strand Rios at second.
Rios, who has the highest career batting average of any player at Target Field, led off the ninth inning with a triple but stayed 90 feet from home plate as two groundouts to shortstop and a flyout ended the inning with the Rangers clinging to the one-run lead that they would relinquish in the final half inning.
“Starting catcher Chris Gimenez drove in the go-ahead RBI, his fourth straight game with a run-scoring hit for the Rangers” is a sentence that not many in this line of work thought they would write in 2014.
And yet, it’s a factual anecdote from Tuesday night’s game.
A day after Texas tallied five two-out runs in Minnesota, they scored two more with two outs Tuesday in a one-run victory.
Gimenez lofted a 2-2 pitch into right field to bring Mitch Moreland home from third and put the Rangers in front for good. Moreland reached on a poorly judged pop-up that fell between the Twins’ shortstop and left fielder and was ruled a base hit.
Rougned Odor supplied a two-out RBI for Texas in the second, as he hit an opposite-field ground rule double down the left field line to score Gimenez.
Donnie Murphy, who got the start at designated hitter, launched a tough-luck sacrifice fly to the center field wall for the Rangers’ first run earlier in that second inning. Twins center fielder Aaron Hicks robbed Murphy of extra bases at the very least with a leaping grab at the top of the eight-foot-high wall.
Scott Baker, starting in place of the scratched Yu Darvish, allowed just three hits over six innings of work, but all three went for extra bases.
Minnesota scored its first two runs on a solo home run from Arcia in the second inning, and on a pair of two-out doubles from Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer in the third.
He would retire the final 10 batters he faced after Mauer’s run-scoring two-bagger. Baker needed only 80 pitches to maneuver through his six innings. Tuesday was the first time since Sept. 24, 2011 that Baker had pitched on three or less days’ rest. He was a member of the Minnesota Twins at the time.
Baker got the start last Friday against Detroit, throwing 87 pitches in six innings.
Aaron Poreda and Alexi Ogando bridged the gap between Baker and Soria, combining for two shutout innings. Ogando struck out Joe Mauer with two men aboard to end the eighth inning and set up just the third save opportunity this month for Soria.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Texas. The third game of the four-game set with Minnesota is slated for 7:10 p.m. Wednesday night.