They say everything is bigger in Texas, but Twins right-hander Cole De Vries’ ERA is smaller when he pitches in Arlington.
De Vries made his second start of the year in Texas on Sunday and held the powerful Rangers offense — which scored 27 total runs in the first three games of the series — to just two runs in five innings. De Vries’ performance helped the Twins cap their road trip with a 6-5 win over Texas, snapping a five-game losing streak.
“It felt great. Obviously, everyone knows this has been a little bit of a rough road trip,” De Vries said of Minnesota’s 2-8 record on their West Coast swing. “We prevailed today at the end of the road trip. It’ll be a good flight back tonight.”
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For De Vries, it was his first win since June 30, which came in just his fourth career major league start. Since that victory, he was 0-4 with a 5.51 ERA in nine starts and one relief appearance prior to Sunday.
The only other time De Vries faced the Rangers came back on July 8. De Vries allowed just three hits and kept Texas scoreless through seven innings. He didn’t factor into the decision, though as Minnesota’s bullpen faltered en route to a 4-3 Rangers win.
The bullpen did its job Sunday, though, and De Vries got a win as a result. Making Sunday’s outing more impressive was the fact that De Vries had to sit through a lengthy rain delay. De Vries took the mound in the bottom of the first but threw just four pitches to leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler before the game was delayed. The delay initially seemed to rattle De Vries, as he allowed two runs in the first inning as the Rangers took an early 2-1 lead. Both runs scored on a Josh Hamilton single to right that drove in Kinsler and Mitch Moreland.
From there, though, De Vries settled down and turned on the cruise control. In fact, De Vries allowed just one base runner the rest of the way — Geovany Soto took first on a passed ball after he struck out swinging to lead off the second inning. After Soto reached, though, De Vries retired the final 12 batters he faced.
“I was making my pitches — or for the most part making my pitches there — and they were just kind of hitting them in places where our guys weren’t,” De Vries said of the first inning. “I just tried to keep with my game plan and keep on pounding the zone.”
Sunday was the third time this month that De Vries had allowed just two runs, but he earned one loss and one no-decision in his previous two two-run outings. After giving up two runs in seven innings on Aug. 4 against Boston, De Vries exited the game with the Twins down 2-1. His last outing prior to Sunday was also another two-run start, as De Vries held Oakland to just a pair of runs in 5-2/3 innings. Minnesota’s offense could not help De Vries in that start, however, as the Twins fell 4-1 with De Vries picking up the loss.
The Twins’ bats finally bailed out De Vries on Sunday, though, as he exited with a 5-2 lead. Minnesota added another run in the top of the sixth before the Twins’ bullpen gave up three runs in the bottom half of the inning. Clinging to a 6-5 lead, Minnesota relievers Casey Fien, Jared Burton and Glen Perkins helped preserve the win for the Twins and for De Vries, who improved to 3-5.
“He’s had a couple of snafus, like most of our starters, but I just like the way he just keeps challenging,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of De Vries. “He keeps challenging hitters and attacking and making pitches. Against that lineup over there, you’ve got to be very careful. . . . I thought he worked the count well, got ahead in the count and made some pitches.”
After 10 games against Seattle, Oakland and Texas, Minnesota now returns home for a brief four-game homestand against the Mariners. But the Twins will do so on the heels of a win, thanks to De Vries’ repeated success against the Rangers.
“We’re going home on a win streak,” Gardenhire said. “One in a row. We’ll work from there.”