Soria gets second chance, closes out Twins
Closer works perfect ninth one night after Minnesota's walks off with win
MINNEAPOLIS -- What happened on Tuesday didn't matter. There was no doubt in manager Ron Washington's mind who would be on the mound in the ninth inning on Wednesday if the Rangers had a lead.
This time Joakim Soria did exactly what Washington expected.
"No doubt, I wouldn't have had it any other way," Washington said. "No closer wants to leave it like that from [Tuesday] night. He wants the ball no matter how many pitches he threw the night before. There was no doubt in my mind if the situation presented itself, he was going to get the ball."
Soria, one night after blowing his first save of the season, retired the side in order in the ninth inning on Wednesday night to preserve the Rangers 1-0 victory over the Twins. Luis Sardinas delivered a two-out RBI single in the seventh inning to set the stage for Soria. The shutout was the Rangers' 10th of the season and they are now 5-2 on this road trip.
Soria struck out the first two batters he faced. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who also had a defensive mishap in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-3 loss, brought this one to an end by snagging Danny Santana's scorching line drive.
"Just another chance to work … I'm glad we got the win," Soria said after earning his ninth save. "It's always good to come right back. You have to move forward. What happened last night happened. You don't drag it into your next outing."
Rangers starter Joe Saunders didn't get the win but he did pitch five scoreless innings in his first start since coming off the disabled list. His last Major League start was on April 4 against the Rays.
"It was definitely a good building step," Saunders said. "For sure it could have been better, but it could have been worse. It was an all-around battle and a good team win. The bullpen did a great job and the defense was awesome. The first time in two months, it was a struggle. But I made some good pitches and got some clutch outs."
Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson was just as good as Saunders, pitching six scoreless innings. But the Rangers finally broke through in the seventh when the Twins went to their bullpen.
Jared Burton took over in the seventh and Leonys Martin reached on a one-out bunt single. Martin then stole second with the safe call confirmed on replay review. Burton struck out Robinson Chirinos, but Sardinas sliced a two-out single to left to drive home the run.
"I was trying to look for a good pitch to hit and drive it up the middle," Sardinas said. "I got it late, but I still got it."
Shawn Tolleson was the first of four Rangers relievers and ended up getting the victory with 1 2/3 scoreless innings. It was his first win of the year.
"It was a great night for the bullpen," Tolleson said. "Joakim obviously showed tonight what he has been good at all year…shutting games down. It was a good night all-around."
Soria did get the save but Neal Cotts may have recorded the biggest out of the night after the Rangers had taken the lead in the seventh. He took over for Tolleson with two outs and a runner on second in the bottom of the inning to face Joe Mauer in a lefty vs. lefty matchup. Cotts fell behind 3-1 to Mauer and then threw two sliders past him for an inning-ending strikeout.
"I wasn't going to give into him in that situation," Cotts said. "With a runner in scoring position, I was going to make the best pitches I could and if it meant that I walked him, then I walked him. But I was not going to give in."
The Twins were 0-for-8 on the night with runners in scoring position, including 0-for-2 by Mauer.
"Runs were at a premium tonight," Mauer said. "I was trying to work the count, and he made a nasty pitch 3-2. I thought it was too close to just take."
Cotts and Frasor shared the eighth and then it was time for Soria. There was no doubt in Washington's mind.
"We gave up one and unfortunately we had chances," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We chances to score early and they made enough pitches. It was a cat-and-mouse [game] after that. They needed a big hit and they got one that flipped into the outfield and there you have it. We hit some right on the nose at some people but that's way those games go.
"Saunders threw the ball very well. It was the first time we'd seen him in a long time. He had good stuff. So you tip your hat to him. And then their bullpen came in and did a really nice job."