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Wandy escapes first, dominates Twins

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Wandy Rodriguez faced a bases-loaded situation with no outs in the first inning Friday against Minnesota. He escaped allowing only one run.

He then retired 18 consecutive batters before leaving after 6 2/3 innings in a 6-2 Rangers win.

So what was wrong in the first?

"Let me show you guys," Rodriguez said before pulling out a drawer in his locker.

Rodriguez revealed a blue foot insole, severely bent along where the left toe would rest. It was his first time wearing this type of insole because of a minor pain in one of his toes.

"I think that was key," he said. "Because when I changed it after the first inning, I came back and my changeup was like normal and I [felt] really good."

Rodriguez changed insoles, and then he changed the course of the game.

After bearing down and escaping the first-inning jam with the only run coming on a Trevor Plouffe sacrifice fly, Rodriguez worked at a pace so quick and smooth he had no idea he had retired 18 straight batters.

"Today?" he said. "Wow."

Rodriguez allowed only three hits and struck out six. He finished with 122 pitches -- the most by a Ranger since Yu Darvish threw 126 against the Red Sox on May 9, 2014. But once Rodriguez got in a groove, it seemed like easy work.

"He does that every time out," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "He gets the ball, he gets on the rubber and he gets ready to throw the next one. It's nice to play defense behind a guy like that and a guy who's going after each hitter."

That quick tempo and confidence has translated into the Rangers winning in each of Rodriguez's past five starts, though his record remains at 3-2.

"I know this," manager Jeff Banister said. "I'll never discount Wandy out of any inning or any situation. Bases loaded, to get out of that inning with only one run -- fantastic job."

Rodriguez finally hit a bump again in the seventh when Minnesota loaded the bases with two outs after Eduardo Escobar worked Rodriguez for a 10-pitch walk. But Keone Kela came in and got Aaron Hicks out on a slow roller to Elvis Andrus to make sure Rodriguez's effort wasn't in vain.

Then, after 20 scoreless innings from the Rangers offense, Andrus came through with four RBIs in the seventh and eighth innings to send the Rangers to a series-opening win.

Andrus got doused with the water cooler, but Rodriguez was the guts behind the victory.

"If Wandy didn't do what he had to do, we wouldn't have had a chance," outfielder Delino DeShields said.

Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for
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