ARLINGTON, Texas – Colby Lewis finally broke through and earned a quality start, but that was about the only break that went the Rangers’ way in a 3-2 loss to the Twins on Sunday.
Kendrys Morales doubled down the left-field line to score the winning run in the ninth inning. Instead of the ball trickling into the corner, as left fielder Michael Choice anticipated, it kicked off the wall, scattering the security guard and ball girl who normally sit there, and rolled into left field.
Had the ball not taken the unusual bounce, pinch runner Sam Fuld might not have scored the winning run from third.
The Twins got another run in the second inning when No. 9 hitter Jorge Polanco sliced a double down the same left-field line on a checked swing.
"Baseball," was Rangers manager Ron Washington’s response to the odd doubles. "They did what they had to do to win the game, we didn’t. Even if it was checked swings and all that stuff, that’s baseball…If we had done it, I’d have loved it. That’s the way it goes."
The loss cost the Rangers a chance to get their second series sweep of the season. It also cost them a chance to break even on the six-game homestand after being swept by Detroit earlier in the week.
On an individual level, the loss spoiled perhaps Lewis’ best outing of the season. Lewis had not earned a quality start (defined as six or more innings allowing no more than three earned runs) in any of his previous 13 starts, tying the major league record.
Lewis (5-5) allowed just two earned runs over six innings. He struck out eight, walked none and retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced.
Had the Rangers given Lewis a lead, Washington said he could have started a seventh inning. Instead, Lewis was pulled after throwing 92 benches with a 2-2 score.
The Rangers did have a 1-0 lead after the first inning thanks to a leadoff hit by Shin-Soo Choo and an RBI single by Adrian Beltre.
They were primed to extend the lead in the second inning when Leonys Martin and Michael Robinson Chirinos led off with back-to-back singles. However, Michael Choice struck out and Rougned Odor hit into a double play.
Chirinos tied it up with a fifth-inning home run. Two other scoring opportunities were scuttled when Carlos Pena and Choice hit into double plays to end the sixth and seventh innings, respectively.
Despite the tie score, the Rangers brought in closer Joakim Soria in the ninth inning. Soria was roughed up for a season-high four runs in his previous appearance two nights earlier.
This time Soria got three strikeouts, but a single up the middle to Josh Willingham and the ricochet double by Morales earned him the loss.
"It’s part of the game," Soria said. "I felt like I threw a very good pitch [to Morales] and it found the line. Morales is a pull hitter and he found the opposite-way line. He’s a great hitter. It happens."
Minnesota’s Glen Perkins struck out Chris Gimenez, Beltre and Alex Rios in the bottom of the ninth to get the save.