Rangers left-hander Mike Minor wasn’t exactly going against the Giants' "A" lineup on Friday night.
Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt -- two of the biggest names left from the San Francisco teams that won three World Series championships from 2010-14 -- were both out of the starting lineup. Buster Posey, another top player from those teams, decided not to play in 2020. Hunter Pence was in the lineup, but he’s still looking for his first hit of the season.
The guys who were filling in for the Giants' brand-name players gave Minor the most trouble. Minor struggled against the bottom third of San Francisco's lineup, and that was his downfall in a 9-2 loss at Oracle Park.
“He had a hard time with the bottom of the lineup, for some reason,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “You’ve got to give those guys credit, They are scrappy. They may not be household names, but the one thing they do is battle, they don’t give away too many at-bats. There were a lot of tough takes. They put pressure on us, and unfortunately, Mike left a couple balls up.”
Texas starters had allowed only one earned run over their first 23 innings before San Francisco scored six off Minor in 5 2/3 innings. In Minor's previous 61 starts, he had only given up six or more earned runs five times.
“Made some bad pitches,” Minor said. “Made some OK pitches, and they hit those, too. Just felt like I was fighting against myself all night. Guys were on base every inning. It wasn’t great.”
Giants first baseman Wilmer Flores, hitting in the No. 2 spot while Belt sat, put his team ahead, 4-2, with a three-run home run in the fifth. But much of the damage came from below.
Designated hitter Darin Ruf, rookie catcher Chadwick Tromp and backup shortstop Mauricio Dubón were a combined 5-for-8 with a walk, four runs scored and three RBIs in nine plate appearances against Minor.
Minor allowed two runs (one earned) over five innings in his first start against the Rockies last week, but he intimated that he didn’t feel right in that outing either.
“Mechanical stuff,” Minor said. “I felt better this time, but I’m still missing spots and feeling like I’m cornered into throwing certain pitches so I can get myself back into the count.”
Minor took a 2-1 lead into the fifth, but he gave up a pair of one-out singles to Tromp and Dubón, the Giants' Nos. 8 and 9 hitters. Tromp's hit was the first of his Major League career.
Minor retired Austin Slater on a shallow flyout to right, and he worked to a 2-2 count against Flores. But Flores fouled off a changeup, then hit a down-and-in slider over the left-field wall.
“What was it, like the first two he didn't look great on?” Minor said. “We tried to throw another one in there even deeper. It was like he was looking for it, or maybe he thought he was just missing it on the other ones and he caught it out front and snuck one over the wall. That's just how it goes.”
The bottom of San Francisco's order got to Minor again in the fifth. After he retired the first two batters, Ruf walked, Tromp drove him home with a double and Dubón tacked on an RBI single.
Shin-Soo Choo hit the first pitch from Giants starter Logan Webb over the left-center-field wall for a leadoff home run. It was Choo’s first homer of the season and the 35th leadoff home run of his career. He's only one behind MLB's active leaders, Houston's George Springer and Colorado's Charlie Blackmon.
Choo has 24 leadoff homers with the Rangers, the second most in club history behind Ian Kinsler (29). Eight of Choo's have come on the first pitch.
Outfielder Danny Santana did not start for the Rangers. Woodward said he has a sore right arm and that there's a possibility he may not play in the final two games against the Giants.
“He's OK,” Woodward said. ”He's just got a little arm soreness, and we're taking it easy on him. I don't want to have him throw or put him in the outfield. He felt it a couple days ago."