Rangers clueless in mystery of beating Twins

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- One American League team the past five years has created more problems for the Texas Rangers than any other.

There's only one AL team that Colby Lewis has never beaten, between his starts in the regular season and last year in the playoffs.

Maybe the Rangers' and Lewis' struggles against Minnesota shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, the Twins have won the AL Central the past two years and have been above .500 the past four.

But Minnesota remained an enigma to the Rangers and Lewis on Wednesday night.

Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer hit solo homers and drove in two runs apiece against Lewis, and Jason Kubel put the game out of reach with a three-run double in the ninth inning as Minnesota beat the Rangers 7-2.

Lewis has never defeated the Twins in six starts, and is 0-3 in four starts the past two seasons since returning from Japan. The Rangers are 2-5 this season, 5-12 the past two years and 16-30 since Ron Washington took over as manager in 2007.

The .348 winning percentage is the lowest against any AL team in the Washington era.

"Their hitters go up and battle us pretty good," Washington said. "They put the ball in play, and once they're on the bags they can put pressure on. They can do a lot of things, and they've got some guys now that can hit it out of the ballpark."

The loss was the first for Lewis since June 11, when he lasted only 1 1/3 innings at Target Field against a watered-down Twins lineup that tagged him for six runs.

Minnesota is largely healthy now, though Denard Span and Justin Morneau are on the disabled list. Mauer, Kubel and Jim Thome missed the first series but were in the middle of the lineup with Cuddyer on Wednesday.

A crowd of 35,950 at Rangers Ballpark, which pushed the Rangers past the 2 million mark, watched the Twins start fast. Mauer connected for his first homer of the year with two outs in the first, and Cuddyer added another homer, the 26th allowed by Lewis this season, to open the fourth.

The Rangers countered in their half of the inning, which started with a double by Elvis Andrus. He scored two batters later on an RBI groundout by Michael Young.

Lewis, though, couldn't keep the deficit at 2-1. Alexi Casilla doubled with two outs in the fifth and scored on a single by Mauer, who moved to second on a throw home. The former MVP would score as Cuddyer singled up the middle for a 4-1 lead.

Lewis (10-8) didn't think he pitched poorly and thinks he might be gaining on the Twins.

"The more and more you see them, the more and more comfortable you get," he said. "I'm just thankful I kept Thome off the bases tonight. He's one of those guys who seems to hit me well."

The Rangers had chances to rally against former Nebraska star Brian Duensing.

Andrus was thrown out trying to steal third as Michael Young was batting with one out in the sixth. Young delivered what would have been an RBI single later in the at-bat.

"Just a bad decision," Washington said.

Duensing and Matt Capps pitched out of two-out trouble in the fifth and the seventh, when the Rangers twice put two runners on for Ian Kinsler.

But the second baseman failed to deliver each time, striking out against Duensing in the fifth and bouncing out in the seventh.

"He [Duensing] was good," said Young, who committed a two-out error just ahead of Kubel's double in the ninth. "He was getting ahead in the count, and throwing everything for strikes."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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