MILWAUKEE -- Before the season is over, there could be more than a few teams that end up regretting not making a bigger push to acquire Rangers starter Mike Minor.
Who knows what the Yankees, Braves or somebody else were willing to do, but the Trade Deadline has passed and Minor is back to All-Star form. He continued his post-Deadline resurgence with eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park on Sunday afternoon.
“Yeah, I am sure there are a lot of front office people who are pretty upset that they didn’t [trade for him],” manager Chris Woodward said after the Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak.
This was Minor’s second straight 1-0 victory. He pitched seven scoreless innings against the Indians on Monday before holding the Brewers to four hits and a walk while striking out 11 on Sunday.
“He has had some amazing outings for us this year,” Woodward said. “That might be the top. I just felt he dominated from the beginning. You could tell he was locked in the way he was using both sides of the plate. He was on point the whole game. That’s as dominating as I’ve seen him this year.”
Catcher Jeff Mathis said he wasn’t going to argue with the manager on that point. The dissenting opinion came from Minor.
“I don’t think so,” Minor said. “I don’t know what it was. It was pretty good though. Breaking balls weren’t very good, but I thought we did a good job of going in and out and then the change of speeds with the changeup.”
What matters most is Minor has fixed the mechanical flaws that were bedeviling him during July when he went 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA over five starts.
“I feel like I’m mechanically better and more compact and more straight toward the plate,” Minor said. “I think in July I was coming around everything. I was kind of spinning on the mound, and it was harder for me to locate. It sounds simple but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Now I feel like I can throw to both sides of the plate and I don’t feel like I’m cutting the ball or it’s flying out, so I can locate better.”
Minor had to be on his game because the Rangers' offense continued to struggle against Brewers right-hander Jordan Lyles. Their only run scored on Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The Rangers are now hitting .155 on their six-game road trip, including 0-for-22 with two sacrifice flies with runners in scoring position.
Minor allowed just three singles and a walk through seven. In the eighth, Hernan Perez led off with a double out of the No. 8 spot in the Brewers' order. That brought up Christian Yelich as a pinch-hitter after he sat the first two games of the series with tightness in his back. Minor struck out the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, then retired Lorenzo Cain on a grounder and Keston Hiura on a fly to right to end the inning.
"He was really good,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “For most of the day, it was three pitches to both sides of the plate and excellent command with all three pitches. I think the Yelich at-bat, where he breaks out some slower curveballs, without throwing maybe one or two before that, is why it was such an impressive game. To have a feel for that in that situation, in that at-bat, he just kept making pitches. We had plenty of at-bats where guys just weren't getting pitches to hit."
Minor threw just 103 pitches, but Woodward still took him out after eight and let Jose Leclerc close it out. Leclerc retired the side in order for his third save since getting the closer’s job back.
“It was a tough one,” Woodward said. “I love to give guys the opportunity to go back out there. I really wanted to give [Leclerc] a clean inning. That was the main thing. I didn’t want Mike’s pitch count to go up to 115 or 120 to try and finish the shutout and I didn’t want (Leclerc) to come in with traffic on base. Pico has been really good and you see he had a swag about him today. He is enjoying himself out there again and enjoying those moments. Basically came out and dominated those three hitters.”