MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The decisive blow for Minnesota came on Ian Desmond’s leadoff home run in the 10th inning for the Texas Rangers.
The Twins essentially lost the game a lot earlier.
Desmond’s homer set up Sam Dyson for the save as the Rangers held on for a 3-2 victory Friday night, but the Twins hit into double plays to end the fourth, fifth and sixth innings against starter Martin Perez.
“Another way to let one go,” manager Paul Molitor said.
In the fifth, after Max Kepler sacrificed to move the runners up to second and third, Kurt Suzuki tried to bunt, too. Trevor Plouffe broke for home with the pitch on a suicide squeeze play, but the ball popped high enough in the air for first baseman Mitch Moreland to catch it and throw across the diamond for an easy out. Just the type of ugly mistakes that have made a bad season much worse for the Twins.
“Just one of those situations that came up. It didn’t work out. We didn’t get the ball down,” Molitor said.
After losing back-to-back games to the Yankees in New York on the last at-bat, including a six-run rally Wednesday against Bush and Dyson, the league-leading Rangers settled in for a series against the worst team in the majors.
Dyson surrendered a leadoff single to Kepler, but he struck out the next two batters and notched his 17th save in 19 attempts. Matt Bush (3-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, which lifted the Rangers to a club-record 52-29 mark at the 81-game midpoint of their season.
“It’s a much better number than being the other way around,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Flip their record, and it’s still three games better than the Twins.
Plouffe tied the game for the Twins with a two-run home run in the seventh that spoiled Martin Perez’s shutout bid, but Desmond took Fernando Abad (1-3) deep to start the extra session. Abad has taken the loss in three of his last four appearances, and his ERA has risen to 2.67, up from 0.47 a little over a month ago.
“Obviously that fastball wasn’t where he wanted it,” Molitor said. “But he’s still one of our guys at the end of the game that we count on.”
Ervin Santana turned in his third straight sturdy start for the Twins, though he needed 117 pitches to log 6 1/3 innings. Two of his three walks came in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar put the Rangers in front with a two-run single off reliever Ryan Pressly. Santana struck out five and allowed only three hits.
“I felt great,” Santana said.
QUITE A SNAG
Byron Buxton made a running catch against the wall in right-center field to end the 10th for the Twins and keep the margin at one run.
“I just really wanted to get us out of the inning so I just did my best to try to get to the ball,” Buxton said.
Brian Dozier singled before Plouffe’s homer, stretching his hitting streak to a career-high 13 consecutive games during which he’s hitting .431 with 12 extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. Dozier’s run of 11 games in a row with at least one extra-base hit ended as the longest in a single season in the majors since Chipper Jones had 14 straight in 2006, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Miguel Sano played 3B in his return from rehab (hamstring), and he threw Adrian Beltre out with an off-balance, bare-handed grab of a slow grounder to end the sixth. Sano pumped his arm on the way to the dugout. With the RF experiment all but over, Sano will rotate between 3B and DH, Molitor said.
Rangers RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season Saturday afternoon. RHP Tyler Duffey (3-6, 5.59 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins in the middle game of the series, coming off a career-high eight innings in a win on the road over the Yankees. He gave up just two hits and one run.
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