For Texas, it started when Garv sauced one into the left-field bleachers to lead off the second inning, capitalizing on Joe Ryan’s newfound penchant for giving up nearly two home runs per nine.
Thankfully, the Twins would concoct some early threats against Max Scherzer — a pair of baserunners were stranded in the first, but Edouard Julien and Max Kepler would combine for a pair of doubles to tie the game up in the third. For Kepler, it was his 50th RBI on the season, his second hit of the night, and the latest feather in his rather stylish post-break cap.
Ryan would continue to put up quality innings; Christian Vazquez helped the Twins out of a jam in the fifth, with Corey Seager at the plate and two runners on, Leody Taveras was hosed trying to swipe third for the second out of the inning.
Ryan would clear five innings of work with just the one run allowed and seven punchies in his first start back, before giving way to Caleb Thielbar to tackle the middle of the order to start the sixth. Thielbar, unfortunately, would surrender homer #32 for Adolis Garcia, who crushed a 424-foot shot into center field to put Texas up by a 2-1 margin.
But what’s that?
A flash sale for tickets to Polancoville?
That’s a promotion I just can’t pass up.
So on comes Emilio Pagan, he of the sub-2.00 ERA since mid-June, for a scoreless visiting seventh. Scherzer still had the game ball for the home seventh, entering the frame with just about 90 pitches, and adding a few strikeouts to bring his total to 10 on the evening.
Across the board, it was a brilliant start for Scherzer, who probably would have left with the lead in a year where the Twins weren’t boasting the pitching staff they have this season.
The pitching ping-pong continued. Jhoan Duran came in for the eighth inning, a shrewd decision designed to have Duran face the Semien-Seager-Lowe leadoff gauntlet instead of less-formidable hitters in the ninth. Semien led off with a single — but Seager struck out and a Lowe strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, elevating Vazquez into “near-stud” status despite a hitless night at the plate.
Alas, the worm turned.
The Rangers were 12-25 in games decided in the 7th or later entering play tonight. Texas opened the ninth with back-to-back singles off Griffin Jax, and after striking out the next hitter, Jax would hit Jarren Duran to juice the bags full of cowboys. It was Jax vs. Robbie Grossman for all the marbles. Jax had him 0-2, but walked him to surrender the lead.
From there, Jax had lost the plot. Taveras would walk to make it a 4-2 game, and Rocco Baldelli would walk (to the mound) to make it a new reliever.
This one didn’t help things. Dylan Floro had Semien in a two-strike hole before drilling him in the elbow and allowing another run in. The Rangers tallied three runs without putting a ball in play, then added a fourth with a Seager sac fly.
On an eight-game losing streak and having coughed up the division lead, manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t playing around, and tapped Aroldis Chapman for the ninth despite the four-run lead. Jordan Luplow would reach, but the Twins couldn’t do anything else, and the Rangers sealed the victory with an exclamation point after a hard-fought nine innings.
The series finale will NOT take place on national television — instead, it will be ol’ faithful Dick Bremer and Glen Perkins calling the Sunday game, which will decide whether the Twins let ‘em have it in three of four games, or if the Rangers will rally back to settle for a split.
Hope to see you then!
SP Joe Ryan (5 IP, 5 H, ER, 2 BB, 7 K)
RP Jhoan Duran (IP, H, 2 K)
2B Jorge Polanco (2-for-4, R, RBI, HR)
RF Max Kepler (2-for-4, RBI)
RP Griffin Jax (0.1 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, HBP, K)
Twins starting 4-9 hitters (0-for-20, 9 K)
ROBOT ROLL CALL: