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Minor plays major role as Rangers even set

Left-hander beats his former club behind trio of homers
MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Mike Minor was an outstanding reliever for the Royals last season.

On Friday night, he showed why the Rangers are hoping he can complete a successful transition back to being a starter. Minor held the Royals to four runs in six-plus innings and the Rangers rode home runs by Shin-Soo Choo, Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara to an 8-4 victory at Globe Life Park.

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ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Mike Minor was an outstanding reliever for the Royals last season.

On Friday night, he showed why the Rangers are hoping he can complete a successful transition back to being a starter. Minor held the Royals to four runs in six-plus innings and the Rangers rode home runs by Shin-Soo Choo, Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara to an 8-4 victory at Globe Life Park.

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Minor allowed seven hits, walked one and struck out four over six innings. Mike Moustakas hit a two-run home run off him in the first and Jorge Soler went deep with a solo shot in the fourth.

The win was Minor's first in four starts as he was 0-2 with a 8.22 ERA in his previous three outings. Overall, he is 4-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts as he works as a starter for the first time since 2014 with the Braves.

Video: KC@TEX: Minor gets Escobar looking in the 6th inning

"I feel it has just been OK," Minor said. "I feel I should be a lot better. It's still early. I have a lot more starts to go. I feel like I'm not pitching that well. Lately it has been keeping the ball in the park. I'm still attacking the hitters and keeping the walks down, but I still have to keep it in the park."

So far the results have been mixed, but the Rangers are willing to be patient and be careful how they use Minor.

"I'm most encouraged that he's been able to post up and pitch for us," manager Jeff Banister said. "He continues to manage through the game. He competes. He loves to be out there and he continues to tell me he feels good."

Minor was pitching on four days' rest. The Rangers will still try to get him extra rest through the season and monitor his innings as he pitches as a starter for the first time in three years.

Video: KC@TEX: Mazara on his big night at the dish in win

"I think we need to stay with our plan of how we use the extra day for Mike," Banister said. "We still have a long ways to go. He was reliever last year. The number of innings will continue to increase. This is a guy who has had some injury history. We'll continue to monitor and I believe we'll continue to give him that extra days' rest whenever possible."

Minor missed all of 2015 and '16 while recovering from shoulder surgery and that's why the Royals decided to use him in the bullpen last year. The Rangers signed him to a three-year contract this offseason with the idea that he could always be used in relief.

Video: KC@TEX: Banister on Minor's growth, Guzman in 8-4 Win

But the Rangers have a bigger need for starting pitching and that's why they want to give Minor a long look in the rotation. Right now, he is their only starter who is signed for next season. Doug Fister and Bartolo Colon can be free agents, while Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Matt Moore all have club options.

The Rangers need for Minor to show this year he can be a big part of a championship Major League rotation.

"I have the confidence I can be," Minor said. "But I am not showing that right now."

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
All-out baserunning led to a Rangers run in the third. Delino DeShields led off with a grounder down the third-base line into the left-field corner and turned it into a triple. Later that inning, Mazara came to bat with DeShields at third, Choo at first and one out. Mazara hit a grounder to first baseman Hunter Dozier, who tried for the inning-ending double play. But Mazara busted down the line and beat the relay, allowing DeShields to score.

Video: KC@TEX: DeShields hits his first triple of the year

"Obviously, that's the identity we love to have up and down our organization," Banister said. "The effort on the basepath has to be there. That is crucial to any of our offensive success. We continue to stress in our culture that the thing you can do for your team and your teammates is to run the bases hard, run the bases smart."

Video: KC@TEX: Mazara plates DeShields on a fielder's choice

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Isiah Kiner-Falefa continues to shine defensively at third base in Adrian Beltre's absence. He made a terrific catch of Moustakas' high foul pop to end the seventh, making a nice stab before crashing into the wall.

Video: KC@TEX: Kiner-Falefa reaches over railing for catch

Kiner-Falefa also started the eighth by making a terrific backhanded grab of Salvador Perez's hot smash and firing to first for the out.

Video: KC@TEX: Kiner-Falefa robs Perez with a sliding stop

HE SAID IT
"He's a good pitcher. Did a nice job. Threw the ball well. What we expected to see." -- Royals manager Ned Yost, on Minor

UP NEXT
Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon will take the mound against the Royals at 3:05 p.m. CT on Saturday. Colon, who has 242 career wins, needs one more victory to tie Juan Marichal for the most all-time by a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. Right-hander Ian Kennedy starts for the Royals.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers, Shin-Soo Choo, Ronald Guzman, Nomar Mazara, Mike Minor