Twins double their way back to beat Rangers 3-2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Minnesota Twins have endured plenty of setbacks this season, displaying enough recent deficiencies to be pushed behind in the American League wild-card race after controlling a spot for three months.
Resiliency is not a problem.
Eduardo Escobar's two-out double in the ninth inning drove in the winning run, capping a late rally by the Twins for a timely 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Texas Rangers.
''That's kind of how we've been all year,'' said Kyle Gibson, whose strong start kept the Twins in striking position. ''We lost it there for a little bit here in the second half, but we're looking to get it back and definitely going to finish strong here in the next couple months.''
Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano tied the game with RBI doubles in the eighth, and Glen Perkins (1-3) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win, just the seventh for the Twins in 23 games since the All-Star break.
''We talked about fighting, we talked about battling and we talked about not giving up,'' Perkins said, ''and we sure did that tonight.''
Spencer Patton (1-1) got the first two outs in the ninth. But he walked Kurt Suzuki before reaching the bottom of the order with Escobar, who bounced a full-count fastball down the right-field line. Suzuki scored easily, and the Twins piled on Escobar in celebration.
This came right after the Twins returned from a brutal road trip to Toronto and Cleveland when they went 1-6 and were outscored 60-27, pushing them into sixth place in the chase for two AL wild cards and prompting a players-only meeting in the clubhouse before batting practice.
''I wouldn't say desperate, but,'' manager Paul Molitor said, before transitioning to another topic.
Jake Diekman, acquired last month by the Rangers in the same trade with Philadelphia that fetched ace Cole Hamels, ominously walked Escobar to start the eighth inning.
''Walks at this level, late in the game, early in the game, middle of the game, they come back to get you,'' Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Brian Dozier nearly tied the game twice, one drive that hooked a few feet foul and another that center fielder Delino DeShields snagged at the wall with a slick sprinting catch. Mauer and Sano came through against Diekman instead.
''You can't really fall behind hitters that much. And, yeah, when your fastball is flat it's pretty easy to hit no matter what,'' Diekman said.
Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer in the second inning, and Yovani Gallardo and the first two Rangers relievers nearly made that stand up.
Gallardo gave up only two singles and three walks in 5 2-3 shutout innings, but needed 100 pitches to get there while the Twins patiently worked their counts. Gallardo has completed six innings only once in his last seven turns.
Gibson recovered from a rough four-start stretch for the Twins, when he went 0-3 and allowed 22 runs in 22 innings.
The Rangers have nudged closer in the wild-card race and even back into legitimate AL West contention, but this was the type of loss they can ill afford at this point in the season. This was exactly what the Twins needed.
''Hopefully we ride that bike and the wheels don't fall off until October,'' right fielder Torii Hunter said.
The Rangers scratched Hamels from his scheduled start Thursday because of a sore left groin, and either Chi Chi Gonzalez or Anthony Ranaudo will be brought up from Triple-A to take his turn in the rotation.
The Twins have an open spot in their rotation Saturday when they host Cleveland, with Tommy Milone on the DL and Tyler Duffey back in Triple-A. Trevor May, bumped to the bullpen a month ago, would be the easy choice. GM Terry Ryan refused to confirm that.
Rangers: Yu Darvish, five months removed from Tommy John surgery, will be examined this week by a team physician and could begin a light throwing program, GM Jon Daniels said. ... Holland, hit hard over three starts on a rehab assignment for the shoulder injury he sustained in his first inning of the season, will need at least another turn or two, Daniels said.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton was sent back to Triple-A Rochester after the expiration of his rehab assignment for a sprained left thumb, but Ryan said Buxton could be called up before the rosters expand in September.
RHP Nick Martinez (7-6, 3.91 ERA) starts Wednesday for the Rangers opposite Twins RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-7, 4.06).