Rangers' offense continues to roll vs. Twins
Andrus delivers clutch two-run double; Texas finishes with 11 hits
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Rangers are leading the Majors in hitting on the road and they were able to combine that with the gritty pitching of Nick Tepesch to keep their travelling act rolling into Target Field.
Wearing the camouflage jerseys and hats to commemorate Memorial Day, the Rangers won their third straight with a 7-2 victory over the Twins. The Rangers have won four of five on this trip and six of eight overall. They are back to one game over .500 with six still to play on their longest trip of the season.
The Rangers had 11 hits on Monday -- including 4-for-8 with two outs and runners in scoring position -- and are hitting .286 on the road while averaging 5.03 runs per game. They are hitting .249 while averaging 3.81 runs per game at home.
"We're feeling confident," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We knew early in the season everything wasn't going our way, but we still trust in each other and knew there was a lot of baseball left. Some of us made some adjustments and everything is starting to get back on track."
Making adjustments proved huge for Tepesch, who has won two straight starts after holding the Twins to two runs in 6 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four. The two runs came in the first two innings but Tepesch was able to get himself under control and outpitch Twins starter Kevin Correia.
"The first couple of innings I was up in the zone and everything was flat," Tepesch said. "It was all about me making adjustments and getting the ball down. That was the big thing, forcing the ball down in the zone and pounding the zone."
The Rangers fell behind 1-0 in the first inning on Trevor Plouffe's two-out home run. But they came back with two in the second as Alex Rios reached on a one-out single and stole second. Chris Gimenez followed with a hard grounder off Correia that went for a single and Rios scored on the pitcher's wild throw to first. Gimenez went to second on the play and scored on a two-out double by Michael Choice.
Tepesch started the second inning by hitting Josh Willingham and it cost him a run. Willingham scored on a one-out single by Kurt Suzuki and a two-out single by Eduardo Escobar. Tepesch then retired 14 of 16 batters before exiting with two outs in the seventh. He also picked off Aaron Hicks at first base after allowing a leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth.
"I caught him leaning … definitely a huge play," Tepesch said.
By cutting off the Twins after two innings, Tepesch was able to give his offense a chance to do some damage against Correia.
"I'll tell you what, he battled his tail off today," Gimenez said. "The way the first couple of innings went, he could have gone south. But he really put his nose in the dirt, settled down and started executing pitches. He was getting a lot of swings and misses and weak contact. He really did a great job battling his tail off and giving us a chance to win."
The Rangers went ahead for good in the fifth with three straight two-out hits against Correia. Rougned Odor and Shin-Soo Choo singled and Andrus brought them home by lining a two-run double into left.
"It seemed like all their runs scored with two outs," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Kevin did a decent job. But we had a couple innings where we didn't finish them off. They're a hot baseball team over there, scoring runs. And they did it again."
Six of the Rangers' seven runs came across with two outs. The Rangers entered the game hitting .269 with runners in scoring position and two outs, second best in the American League.
"We just put some good at-bats together and everything just fell into place," manager Ron Washington said. "All our guys have been picking it up. We just need to be consistent."
The Rangers kept coming with the big two-out hits in the seventh. Gimenez had a two-run double and Leonys Martin brought him home with an RBI single. Gimenez, who shares time behind the plate with Robinson Chirinos, was 2-for-4 on Monday and Rangers catchers are 10-for-22 with four doubles and five RBIs on this trip.
"With everything that has happened with this team, it would have been easy to roll over," Gimenez said. "But nobody has done that. Hopefully we'll continue to right the ship and keep rolling."