A six-run inning was enough to spur Texas to victory yesterday; it wasn’t enough for the Twins this afternoon. With 24 total bases on the ledger, the Rangers fought their way to victory, in a 9-7 final that didn’t reach the ending score until the eighth inning.
Texas treated Devin Smeltzer pretty harshly this Saturday; Kole Calhoun’s 11th homer of the year was a three-run shot that opened the scoring in the game’s second inning. But the tone was set shortly thereafter; Jose Miranda launched a three-run shot of his own — this one traveling nearly 430 feet — to tie the game up in the fourth.
For a moment, it looked like the Twins were taking this one by the reins; Gary Sanchez quickly followed up Miranda’s bomb with a two-run homer of his own. The blast (which took Gary’s homer totals into double digits) raised Minnesota’s win probability over 70%.
That number increased when Byron Buxton corked his 11th double into right field, scoring Nick Gordon, and turning a three-run deficit into a three-run lead within the span of a few batters. It also triggered the infamous “batting-around” debate; the most fascinating twist came when Dick Bremer (a proponent of the idea that it takes nine men to bat around) drew a circle to make the argument that you don’t draw past the starting point to make a round shape. LaTroy Hawkins countered with the idea that you still wind up back where you started (supporting the idea that it takes ten men), which wound up swaying Glen Perkins from his original nine-men stance.
Personally, I think batting around requires ten men to bat, and am in total agreement with LaTroy that in order to get all the way around something, you have to wind up where you began.
Unfortunately, the Rangers weren’t thinking about this distinction at all, and began scoring again. Marcus Semien drove a three-run homer into the seats during the very next half-inning, immediately tying the game. Texas took the lead moments later, when Corey Seager launched a back-to-back jack.
The Twins wasted a leadoff double in the sixth, and couldn’t string together a rally in the seventh. But in the eighth, Luis Arraez led off the inning with a 3-2, pinch-hit single. Max Kepler would single him along, and Gary Sanchez would walk the bases loaded. It was an absolute doink of a groundout, but Gilberto Celestino placed a slow chopper to second that died off the bat long enough for the runners to move up, and Arraez to tie the game.
The lead would not last. With Jhoan Duran on the mound, and a runner aboard, Marcus Semien laced a sinking liner to left, and Nick Gordon made the ill-advised decision to go Ryan Raburn on it:
This would be the crushing blow, although Texas would make sure to tack one more with a Mitch Garver RBI single. Ranger closer Brett Martin tossed a perfect ninth, and the Rangers sealed the deal on their second win of the weekend series.
It wasn’t a great day for either Devin Smeltzer or Martin Perez, both of whom took solid pitching lines into their outings today. Nevertheless, the home pitching staff kept the team a step ahead, and it made the difference.
Things close out tomorrow with an afternoon game, and the Twins will try and avoid getting swept out of Texas. Hope to see you there!
RP Trevor Megill (2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K)
1B Jose Miranda (1-for-3, R, 3 RBI, HR)
3B Gio Urshela (2-for-3, R, 2B)
C Gary Sanchez (1-for-3, R, 2 RBI, BB, HR)
SP Devin Smeltzer (3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K)
RP Jhoan Duran (1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, BB)
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
Uncle Lincoln provides the COTG in the form of an excellent linguistic puzzle.