The Twins didn’t exactly light up the Texas sky with their offense in the opener of a three-game series against the Rangers, but Minnesota took advantage of the opportunities presented in finding its way back into the win column.
Minnesota (9-10) won for only the second time in eight games by turning three walks in one inning into three runs with one swing of the bat, and they emerged with a 3-2 win Monday.
The Twins and Rangers face off in the middle game of the series Tuesday night at Globe Life Park.
“We talk about quality at-bats,” said Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who delivered the three-run double in the fifth inning Monday night. “Trying to find ways to create runs and taking advantage of opportunities.
“A team that’s obviously been struggling offensively, so knowing a few runs, in a one-run ballgame, that could be the deciding difference. We’re not going up trying to walk, but taking advantage.”
The Twins will look to take advantage of a start by their ace Tuesday. Right-hander Ervin Santana is 3-0 with a microscopic 0.64 ERA on the season, but he traditionally struggles against Texas.
Despite a 13-11 career record against the Rangers, Santana owns a 5.57 ERA in 31 career starts vs. Texas. He is coming off a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians in which he allowed one run in six innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
Santana leads the Minnesota staff in wins, ERA, innings pitched (28) and strikeouts (20).
Texas counters with Andrew Cashner (0-1, 2.38 ERA), who is making his third start. The 30-year-old right-hander is facing the Twins for first time in his career, one of three clubs he has yet to pitch against.
The Texas native is coming off his first-ever appearance at Globe Life Park. He made quite an impression on his new hometown fans by going six scoreless innings in what turned out to be a 13-inning, 1-0 walk-off win for Texas over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.
Should Cashner put the Rangers in position to win again, new closer Matt Bush will be ready. Bush recorded his first save of the season Sunday, assuming the role left by a struggling and subsequently injured Sam Dyson.
Bush, one of the club’s top relievers last season as a rookie, doesn’t see much difference in his new role.
“The significance is what everyone else wants to put on it,” he said. “For me, it’s getting three outs and helping the ballclub win, no matter what. That’s what it’s all about.”
Bush admitted there are differences having to record the final out.
“As the closer, you give up a run or two and you still get that save, you did your job,” he said. “Certain innings it’s a little bit different. You want to keep the score the way it is and allow the closer to have a little room to work with. Every inning as a relief pitcher late in the game, you want to shut it down and come into the dugout knowing you did your job that day.”