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Minor milestone: Lefty shuts out Halos

Rangers ace allows three hits and strikes out seven to secure series win
@Sullivan_Ranger
April 17, 2019

ARLINGTON -- Mike Minor wanted to be the Rangers’ No. 1 starter with no limitations. He wanted the handcuffs off after the Rangers watched him with excessive care and pitch-count attention last season. He is proving worthy of the assignment. Minor, needing just 103 pitches and facing just three batters

ARLINGTON -- Mike Minor wanted to be the Rangers’ No. 1 starter with no limitations. He wanted the handcuffs off after the Rangers watched him with excessive care and pitch-count attention last season.

He is proving worthy of the assignment.

Minor, needing just 103 pitches and facing just three batters over the minimum, delivered his first career shutout in pitching the Rangers to a 5-0 victory over the Angels on Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.

“He was just dominant all the way,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “It was pretty impressive. That's our No. 1 right there, that's how we're looking at him."

Minor, in his 142nd Major League start, allowed just three singles and two walks while striking out seven. After an Opening Day loss to the Cubs, he has turned in two strong seven-inning efforts and one shutout, allowing just two runs in his last 23 innings.

“It feels good, but it feels really good that we got the win,” Minor said. “We’ve been playing well, and to give the bullpen a day off. [Catcher Jeff] Mathis did a hell of a job back there, and the defense behind me made some good plays.”

Minor went as many as seven innings in just four of 28 starts for the Rangers last season. He had gone as as many as eight innings just three times previously, with the last one coming on July 21, 2013, in a 3-1 loss to the White Sox, while with the Braves. That eight-inning effort in a losing cause was the only complete game of his career prior to Tuesday.

Woodward likes to use the word “conviction,” and that’s what he is seeing from Minor right now.

“He wanted to be the guy,” Woodward said. “He's just committed himself to saying 'I don't like that people think I'm not a No. 1.' He wants to prove that. He's taken ownership of that on this staff, and obviously, he has proven it every time he's gone out.”

Asdrubal's home run gets an assist over the wall

Minor put together this gem even though he said he never felt locked in all night.

“I thought my stuff was OK,” Minor said. “Like I said, Mathis helped me out a lot, with what he put down. And we mixed it up last game -- I think 33 percent changeups -- and then this game it had to be 20 or something. We mixed it up because we felt like early on they were looking for that, looking for something slower.”

The Angels last baserunner was a walk to Albert Pujols to open the seventh. Jonathan Lucroy followed with a hard grounder up the middle and shortstop Elvis Andrus made a terrific diving stop. He then flipped the ball with his glove to second baseman Danny Santana, who completed the breathtaking double play.

“It was huge,” Minor said. “I should have made the play. It was a laser hit right back at me, and I turned around and Elvis is diving back there, and turns the double play.”

Lucroy’s grounder was one of the few balls hit hard off Minor all night.

“He threw the ball really well,” Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun said. “He had all his pitches going, located well. Everything we hit hard got caught. Kind of the perfect storm. I think that’s definitely one of the better games he’s thrown against us."

After the double play, Minor retired the next seven hitters to finish the complete game. Woodward had the bullpen on alert in case Minor ran into trouble, but he had 96 pitches through eight so there was no question about sending him back out for the ninth.

“Yeah, that's always the hard one, right?” Woodward said. “I wanted him to [get it]; any time you've got a chance to get a shutout as a starting pitcher nowadays, it's so rare. I'm kinda old-school in that way; I was going to let him go a little further than I wanted."

Woodward had Chris Martin warming up in the ninth, but Minor finished off the top of the Angels’ order in just seven pitches.

“It’s just about pitching, there’s no other obstacles in the way,” Minor said. “It’s, if I’m getting guys out and the pitch count is right, then go back out there and pitch.”

That’s just the way Minor wants it and the Rangers were rewarded on Tuesday night.

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.