Chris Herrmann, Justin Morneau homer to bring Twins to victory
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Chris Herrmann’s parents were watching him play in the majors for the first time.
The Minnesota catcher gave them something to tell the grandkids someday.
Herrmann broke up Yu Darvish’s latest no-hit bid in a big way with a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning and Justin Morneau followed with a home run that sent the Twins over the Texas Rangers 3-2 Friday night.
“They were up in Minnesota last year when I was called up but I never got to play,” said Herrmann, who grew up in the Houston area. “It’s just a good feeling and they’re waiting outside and I can’t wait to see them.”
Minnesota snapped a five-game losing streak on a night when it looked as if the strikeout-prone Twins had no chance against the major league strikeout leader.
Instead, Darvish (12-6) had a third straight start without a win and the right-hander’s home run total jumped to 22 after the Japanese ace allowed 14 his entire rookie season.
“In that situation in the seventh inning, I told myself I can’t allow a home run,” Darvish, who has taken three no-hitters into the seventh inning this season, said through an interpreter. “And as soon as I told myself that, you know what happened.”
Nolan Ryan, the Rangers’ CEO who had the last two of his record seven no-hitters with Texas in 1990 and 1991, was watching from his usual spot on the front row as Darvish faced the minimum number of batters with 10 strikeouts through six innings.
But Darvish didn’t make it out of the seventh. He walked Brian Dozier to start the inning — the Twins’ second baserunner of the game — and Herrmann drove a fastball down the right-field line for a 2-all tie.
Four pitches later, Morneau hit a hanging slider 409 feet into the upper deck in right.
“I just feel like after that home run happened, he just kind of got rattled and things just kind of went haywire for him,” said Herrmann, who has four homers. “I was the one that started it and things just got a little crazy for him, and, I don’t know, it was nice. It was fun.”
After Morneau’s drive, Darvish got Josh Willingham for his 11th strikeout and Ryan Doumit flied out. But manager Ron Washington pulled Darvish after a double by Trevor Plouffe, who struck out his first two times on a 94 mph fastball and a 61 mph curve.
“He made two mistakes and they didn’t miss them,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “Strikeouts are great, but the biggest thing is we’ve got to win the game.”
Twins starter Liam Hendriks (1-2) got his second career win by holding Texas to two runs — one earned — in six innings.
Glen Perkins struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 31st save in 34 chances after relievers Brian Duensing and Josh Roenicke pitched around a one-out triple by Craig Gentry in the seventh.
“You can’t really think about it too much,” Hendriks, the Australian right-hander, said of watching Darvish dominate on the other side. “It’s me against their hitters and I need to try to match up my best and see what I can do against their guys. It was quick innings, so I didn’t get too much of a breather some of the time.”
Darvish’s other two no-hit bids came in Houston. He was an out away from a perfect game on April 2 before a single by Marwin Gonzalez, then pitched 7 1/3 hitless innings before a home run by Carlos Corporan on Aug. 12.
Darvish gave up three hits in 6 2/3 innings and finished with 11 strikeouts — his 11th double-digit strikeout game of the season. He now has 236 strikeouts, second to Ryan’s franchise record of 301 in 1989.
For the first six innings, the Twins didn’t even come close to a hit.
Ninth-place hitter Pedro Florimon was so flustered he thought he had walked on a 2-2 count in the sixth — one pitch after third-base umpire Tim McClelland kept his at-bat alive after ruling he checked his swing on 1-2. Darvish waved Florimon back to the plate as he walked down the first-base line, then struck him out on the full count.
“That we were going to get him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of what he was thinking after six innings. “Always think that way. He was punching us out, absolutely. But we also had a couple of guys put some swings on him, so you’ve just got to figure out a way. You’ve just got to hang in there.”
Notes: Rangers RHP Neftali Feliz will skip his final rehab appearance Saturday and be activated when rosters expand Sunday. The closer turned starter hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 18, 2012. He will be in the bullpen.