Right-hander Dane Dunning pitched well enough to win his second game of the season, but defensive mistakes ended up hurting him and the Rangers, who lost to the Twins, 6-5, at Target Field on Monday.
Dunning pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs -- just two earned. Looking for weak contact, he got nine swings and misses.
The bad luck started in the second inning. After Alex Kirilloff doubled with one out, Jorge Polanco flied out to right fielder Joey Gallo, who threw the ball over the head of third baseman Charlie Culberson, allowing Kirilloff to score the first run of the game.
Manager Chris Woodward didn’t mind Gallo making the throw, thinking Gallo had a good chance of getting Kirilloff.
“Dunning should have been further back,” Woodward said. “That’s just a good talking point to our pitchers. The ball actually hit [Dunning] in the forearm. We had a chance to get out of the inning if Joey makes a good throw. Clearly, the ball had a chance to beat that guy at third base.”
Dunning acknowledged his mistake.
“I thought I had to catch it, and it hit me and it ricocheted off in the wrong direction,” Dunning said. “If [I caught it], it saves a run. The game is completely different.”
Minnesota scored its second run on a weird play at the plate an inning later. With a runner on first base, Josh Donaldson doubled down the left-field line. Luis Arraez tried to score all the way from first base and was called out at the plate, but the replay showed that catcher Jose Trevino never tagged Arraez, and the call was overturned.
“I think [Trevino] thought he tagged him, but clearly he didn’t,” Woodward said. “That’s frustrating, but obviously, the fight in our guys to get back within one, it just shows after the fact … you should have won the game. We need to clean things up a little bit.”
Dunning settled down and was cruising until the sixth. He left with a runner on third with two outs, but the Twins scored three runs that inning, with Kirilloff highlighting the scoring with an RBI double off left-hander Kolby Allard.
Woodward had nothing but praise for Dunning, who got a lot of quick outs because the Twins were swinging at his sinker.
“He pitched great," Woodward said. "He threw 76 pitches in 5 2/3 [innings]. He probably could have kept going. He was really efficient with his pitches. Nobody really hit the ball hard outside of Donaldson. That’s pretty much about it."
Dunning now has a respectable 3.81 ERA, but he feels he can do better.
“There are a couple of things I need to work on and capitalize on,” Dunning said. “I have to … really locate that slider for a strike and not in the middle of the zone, like I did with Donaldson. Just executing on the outer half and being able to get early strikes with my slider.”
The Rangers couldn’t give Dunning any run support against Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda, who pitched 5 1/3 innings and struck out eight. The Rangers had chances to score in the second and third innings, but they couldn't capitalize.
The Rangers didn’t score until the top of the eighth inning, when Adolis García hit a two-run homer off left-hander Brandon Waddell and David Dahl scored on a groundout. Gallo made it a tight ballgame with a two-run homer off left-hander Taylor Rogers in the ninth, but it wasn't enough to stave off the Rangers' 17th loss of the season.