ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers began their 2017 with a 1-4 record.
The Minnesota Twins began their season 5-1.
However, when the two teams meet in Globe Life Park on Monday, they will do so with nearly similar records (8-10 for Minnesota, compared to 9-10 for Texas).
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Rangers left-hander Martin Perez and Twins right-hander Phil Hughes will square off as the clubs start a three-game series.
The Rangers just wrapped up a four-game sweep of the spiraling Kansas City Royals. The Twins, on the other hand, dropped two of three against the Detroit Tigers for their fourth consecutive series defeat.
Hughes and Perez have opposite records — the Twins starter is 2-1 and the Rangers starter is 1-2 — but Perez enters the game with an ERA of nearly two runs per game lower, at 3.60 to 5.40.
The Venezuelan left-hander had an encouraging start to the season, but he hit a rocky patch in his last outing. He allowed four runs in the first inning and lasted just 3 2/3 innings at Oakland en route to a 9-1 loss on Wednesday.
“You have to fight when you have days like today,” Perez said after getting roughed up by the A’s. “When you don’t have your best stuff, you have to compete, trying to hit the spot that you want and keep the ball down and compete every time.
“That’s for me the big thing when you don’t have good stuff.”
Perez will hope to continue the run of good pitching that saw the Rangers give up just five runs in the four victories over Kansas City.
Hughes earned wins in his first two starts before allowing six runs (four earned) over 3 1/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday. He was touched for three runs in the first inning.
“It was a tough way to start,” Hughes said. “I have to find a way to regroup and get us in the dugout. That’s the theme for all three of my starts so far. I have to not give up runs in the first inning. That’s been kind of a weak spot so far. It sets the tone for the rest of the game and it’s not a good way to start.”
The Twins put the finishing touches on a 2-7 homestand with a 13-4 loss to Detroit on Sunday, a game in which backup catcher Chris Gimenez pitched.
“It was not a good ending to not a very good homestand,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “That was tough to watch that, to be honest with you. We just try to find a way with an already somewhat thin bullpen of trying to manipulate our way through it. Not a good day.”
Gimenez added, “It just happened to be a little bit of a rough patch. It’s good to have those at the beginning of the year. These are kind of where you find out what you’re made of, from inside this clubhouse here. I don’t think anybody thinks other than that. …
“We’ll see what happens. I’m looking forward to this next series.”
After the game, the Twins sent pitcher Buddy Boshers back to Triple-A Rochester. He threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the series finale against the Tigers.
The Monday matchup will be the first between the teams since Thad Levine departed his assistant general manager role in Texas to take the job as the general manager in Minnesota.