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Clutch hits, key throws nab win for Rangers

Mazara, Gallo, Guzman come up with big knocks before bullpen holds it down
Special to MLB.com

TORONTO -- The Rangers' series opener in Toronto wasn't always pretty, but timely plays on both sides of the ball gave Texas the edge in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

A two-run single from Ronald Guzman in the sixth broke a tie after Isiah Kiner-Falefa bunted the runners over. Otherwise, the Rangers did all of their damage in the first inning as they ambushed Marcus Stroman early.

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TORONTO -- The Rangers' series opener in Toronto wasn't always pretty, but timely plays on both sides of the ball gave Texas the edge in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

A two-run single from Ronald Guzman in the sixth broke a tie after Isiah Kiner-Falefa bunted the runners over. Otherwise, the Rangers did all of their damage in the first inning as they ambushed Marcus Stroman early.

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"I feel like I've been getting a lot better at knowing myself," Guzman said after the win. "In Triple-A I used to do that all the time, getting a pitch I can handle, that I can drive to the opposite field."

Mike Minor allowed runs to cross in each of the first three innings, but settled down to give the Rangers a chance through the middle innings.

"Minor really grinded through six innings," said manager Jeff Banister. "Probably not the greatest command on his fastball, but he was able to use his offspeed stuff and mix very well."

Video: TEX@TOR: Minor gets Pearce looking in the 1st inning

The left-hander allowed four runs over six innings while striking out four. Minor did allow nine hits, but avoided the walks and got plenty of help from Delino DeShields and the defense behind him.

"We were able to make some plays when we needed to," Banister said. He then praised the Rangers' bullpen, noting, "They did a great job only giving up one hit tonight."

Keone Kela was part of the strong bullpen effort for Texas, picking up his fifth save of the season in a very efficient ninth inning.

"Five-pitch save, you don't see that very often," Banister said. "They were an aggressive group of hitters. He threw strikes and was able to record the outs."

Texas got plenty of production from the middle of its order in Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo. Mazara went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, which raised his average to .302, while Gallo launched his eighth home run of the season deep to left field in the first inning.

Video: TEX@TOR: Mazara plates 2 with a single to center

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Rangers turned what looked like a broken play into one of their best defensive sequences in the bottom of the first. Kevin Pillar ripped a double off the glove of DeShields as he raced back to the wall, which gave Justin Smoak a chance to score from first. DeShields stuck with it, though, and got the ball in to second baseman Drew Robinson, who turned and fired home to Juan Centeno in time to get Smoak.

Video: TEX@TOR Robinson cuts down Smoak at the plate

"That play doesn't get made if DeShields doesn't get up and get the ball back to the infield extremely quick," Banister said.

DeShields later threw out Smoak by himself in the third. Smoak tried to go from first to third when a ground ball got past Robinson and rolled into center, but a strong throw from DeShields got him just in time. There were none out, so that throw likely saved another run from crossing.

Video: TEX@TOR: DeShields throws Smoak out at third base

SOUND SMART
Gallo's home run left his bat at 110.3 mph, which marked just the second time that he's gone to the opposite field at 110 mph or harder since Statcast™ began measuring in 2015. His other one came just five days ago, on April 22. More >

Video: TEX@TOR: Gallo rips a 2-run homer to left-center

UP NEXT
Bartolo Colon (0-0, 2.59 ERA) is still looking for his first win of the season, but has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers over three starts and two relief appearances. Colon has done well to limit any self-inflicted damage with just one walk allowed in each of those three starts. He'll make his fourth start for the Rangers on Saturday at 3:07 p.m. CT against Jaime Garcia (2-1, 4.57 ERA) and the Blue Jays.

Keegan Matheson is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto.

Texas Rangers