Minor, Andrus once again have Tribe's number

August 6th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- is still upset he missed the Rangers’ trip to Cleveland last year.

Andrus came in batting .368 in his career against the Indians and .415 specifically at Progressive Field. However, he fractured his elbow last April, an injury that kept him out for two months, including the Rangers’ annual trip to Cleveland -- a place he’s turned into his personal stomping grounds over his 11-year career.

So prior to Monday’s contest, Andrus sat down at his locker, leaned back in his chair and talked about how happy he was to be back. Three hours later, Andrus’ career domination of the Indians had continued as he finished 2-for-4 with a single, a triple and scored the Rangers' only run in their 1-0 win over the Indians.

Andrus’ solid play was backed by seven shutout innings from pitcher , who added to his own impressive resume against Cleveland.

“I think some of the adjustments he made allowed for his pitches to be more consistent, and the shapes of the pitches were what he wanted,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “His changeup and slider had the movement he wanted and his fastball command was much better. That’s the Mike we’ve been seeing all year.”

After putting together a stellar start to the season, Minor took a step back in July, recording a 6.59 ERA in five starts that led to his season ERA rising by almost a full run.

“I felt like I was more in control tonight,” Minor said. “I was hitting more spots and felt mechanically better. I felt like [catcher Jeff] Mathis and I had a good game plan, and I executed it for the most part.”

Minor scattered seven strikeouts over seven scoreless frames in the victory and now holds a 3-0 record with a 0.39 ERA in 23 1/3 career innings against the Indians.

For Minor, the start was his first since the night of the Trade Deadline, which ended a two-month period in which his name was brought up in rumors almost daily. Minor said that since the Deadline passed, he can just focus on producing on the field.

“I just feel like it’s back to baseball and I don’t have to worry about hearing or seeing something,” Minor said. “I just have to worry about my mechanics and helping this team win.”

Andrus helped the Rangers scrape their run across when he led off the fourth inning with a triple that sailed just over the head of center fielder Oscar Mercado. Andrus scored a batter later on a sacrifice fly to center from Nomar Mazara.

Minor’s biggest jam came in the bottom of the seventh inning when, after allowing back-to-back singles to Jordan Luplow and Jason Kipnis, he found himself with runners on first and third with only one out. After striking out Roberto Perez with a fastball low in the zone, Minor got Francisco Lindor to ground out to Andrus, ending the threat.

The only other time Minor allowed multiple Indians to reach base came in the first when both Mercado and Yasiel Puig reached on singles before a Jose Ramirez groundout ended the inning.

Despite Minor’s strong outing, things almost slipped away for Texas in the ninth when Jose Leclerc gave up a leadoff double to Ramirez that just nicked the chalk down the right-field line. After a Tyler Naquin sacrifice bunt moved Ramirez to third, Leclerc got Kipnis to ground out and Franmil Reyes to fly out to end the game.

“He had the tying run on third base with one out, and went out and executed his pitches,” Woodward said. “That’s a big one. I think he’ll sleep pretty good tonight.”

Outside of the fourth inning, Texas’ offense was dormant most of the night. Willie Calhoun started off the second inning with a double to left field, but failed to advance any further after Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded into an inning-ending double play. Mathis hit a two-out double to left in the eighth inning that proved to be for naught after Tyler Clippard struck out Danny Santana two batters later to end the inning.

Indians starter Aaron Civale matched Minor nearly pitch for pitch in his second big league outing, striking out seven Rangers in six innings.

After a weekend that featured a flurry of transactions, the Rangers now have a roster that features a mix of veterans and young players, some of whom are getting their first extended look on a big league club. Woodward said he knows that games like Monday’s can go a long way to creating confidence up and down his new-look lineup.

“This is a really good group of guys that care about each other,” he said. “When it gets into close games like this -- where we know one pitch, hit or run will determine the game -- we’re leaning on each other.”