Rangers send out regular starter for series finale vs. Padres

SAN DIEGO — Texas manager Jeff Banister has decided to play it straight Sunday afternoon as the Rangers go for a sweep of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

No reliever from the Rangers’ bullpen will work as an “opener” in front of scheduled starter Mike Minor.

It will be the left-handed Minor (12-7, 4.19 ERA) paired against Padres rookie right-hander Jacob Nix (2-3, 6.00).

Not that Banister is abandoning the idea of “openers” after using them in the first two games against the Padres and two other times recently. Banister said he’ll use an opener in about half of the Rangers’ remaining games.

But Sunday’s start belongs to the 30-year-old Minor, who will make his 27th start of the season. He is on a hot streak — leading Texas in wins and starts after a string of recent successes.

Minor is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA in his last four games. He has allowed five runs in his last 23 innings to drop his ERA from 4.61 to 4.19. And he is 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break with a 0.86 WHIP and a .182 opponents’ batting average.

Minor’s WHIP since the All-Star break is the fifth lowest in the major leagues among pitchers with eight or more starts. His overall WHIP of 1.11 ranks 11th in the American League and is on pace to be the eighth-lowest in Rangers history.

His most recent outing Monday in Anaheim was his third quality start in his last four outings.

Minor has made six career appearances (five starts) against the Padres. He is 2-3 with a 4.31 ERA.

Sunday will be Minor’s second outing of the season against the Padres. On June 27 in Arlington, Texas, he took a perfect game against the Padres into the seventh inning before allowing a one-out single to Eric Hosmer, who was the only Padres player to reach base in seven innings.

Minor is only 6-4 on the road this season with a 5.37 ERA in 12 starts. But he has won his last four road starts since the All-Star break with a 2.66 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Nix will make his seventh major league start while facing the Rangers for the first time. Nix was the Padres’ third-round pick in the 2015 draft.

Nix allowed four hits in six shutout innings of his major league debut on Aug. 10 and allowed one run in 8 1/3 innings on Aug. 28.

But Nix has struggled in his two most recent starts, giving up 11 runs,12 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 10 innings.

In 30 major league innings, Nix has allowed 20 runs, 34 hits and nine walks, with 16 strikeouts. He has a .286 opponents’ batting average and a 1.43 WHIP.