ARLINGTON -- Mike Minor again proved that his transition from reliever to starter has been a success this season.
He won a game on Tuesday night without his best stuff, holding the Angels to two runs in five-plus innings in the Rangers' 4-2 victory at Globe Life Park. Home runs by Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, and a two-run double by Nomar Mazara gave Minor the necessary run support.
"Not very good," Minor said. "Didn't go deep in the game. Didn't make quality pitches early on. Gave up some stolen bases, hit a guy, walked a guy … it was kind of a grind tonight. Like I said, I didn't make quality pitches."
Minor, in his 25th start, allowed just three hits, walked one batter and the Angels were 0-for-8 against him with runners in scoring position. He left the game after giving up a home run to Shohei Ohtani leading off the sixth inning.
"Tonight he didn't have his best stuff. We have seen him sharper," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The way he mixed pitches, he was able to throw enough strikes to get the outs when he needed them. Pretty gutsy performance by him tonight based on the feel of everything."
Minor is now 5-1 with a 2.78 ERA in his last six starts and 11-7 with a 4.31 ERA in 25 starts on the year. Minor, by allowing just three hits and a walk, also lowered his season WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) to 1.1, which is an impressive figure for a pitcher who missed all of 2015-16 because of injuries and was used as a reliever by the Royals last year.
"I expected it," Minor said. "That sounds bad, but I think people didn't expect me to have a good season. They thought I should have gone to the bullpen and I wasn't cut out to be a starter anymore. It feels good to end it like this. Couple more starts to go, but it's coming together."
Only four pitchers in Rangers history have made at least 25 starts and had a WHIP lower than 1.1. Three of them are in the Hall of Fame: Ferguson Jenkins (1974, 1978), Bert Blyleven (1976) and Nolan Ryan (1989-91). The other is Yu Darvish in 2013 when he was second in the American League Cy Young voting.
The 1.1 WHIP would also be the eighth lowest in the American League among qualifying pitchers, although Minor is a borderline qualifier. To be a qualifier, a pitcher must throw at least one inning for every game his team has played. Minor has 140 innings through the Rangers' first 139 games with possibly four starts left in the season.
"We couldn't have asked for it to work any better than it has," Banister said. "He'll still get to 29 starts, which I think is an important mark for him to get to. It's important to continue that process with Mike and not push the envelope at all so we still have a guy who is fairly fresh into the offseason, in good shape so that when we get to Spring Training next year, we can take the gloves off and let him run with it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Mazara had a two-run double off Angels left-handed starter Andrew Heaney in the fifth to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead. He also had a three-run home run off Twins left-hander Stephen Gonsalves on Friday night. Prior to that, Mazara had just two RBIs off left-handers in a span of 29 games.
Jose Leclerc has been successful on eight straight save opportunities and has allowed just two hits in his last 43 at-bats. He has not allowed a run in his last 15 innings, the longest scoreless streak by a Rangers pitcher this year.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Beltre hit his ninth home run of the season off Heaney in the fourth. It was the 471st of his career, two behind Carlos Delgado for 32nd all time, and the 3,146th hit of his career. Only four other players have that many hits and home runs and they are all Hall of Famers: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Eddie Murray. The home run was also Beltre's first in 101 at-bats off a left-hander this season.
"Beltre's given me trouble for a long time," Heaney said. "Every time I face him. He knows what I like to do. I try mixing it up on him sometimes, and that time he got me. He ambushed the fastball in and he got every bit of it, put a good swing on it."
HE SAID IT
"Obviously I feel better physically. I'm trying to find a way to stay that way and help this ballclub. I am part of this ballclub and I want to help make these guys better." -- Beltre
Right-hander Bartolo Colon makes his first start since Aug. 20 when he pitches against the Angels on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. CT at Globe Life Park. He was on the disabled list with stiffness in his lower back and also missed a start on Sunday against the Twins because of a stomach virus. He pitched against the Angels on June 1 and allowed six runs in three innings. Right-hander Jaime Barria will pitch for the Angels.