If Nick Tepesch struggled Thursday night, his right wrist wasn’t going to be an excuse. Manager Ron Washington made that much clear before the game.
“We’re not going to blame no wrist,” Washington said.
No excuses were needed in the end — for Tepesch, who had his last start cut short after taking a liner off his right wrist, or the sleep-deprived Texas Rangers, who landed at around 6 a.m. Minnesota time after an overnight flight from California.
Behind Tepesch and a gritty relief outing by Tanner Scheppers, the Rangers held on for a 2-1 victory over the Twins at Target Field.
Tepesch flew in ahead of the team and got a good night’s sleep unlike his teammates. The seemingly unflappable 24-year-old right-hander laughed at the notion he might have had too much adrenaline the day before his start to sleep too well.
“I’m not a real ‘wirey’ guy,” Tepesch said.
That goes for on the mound, too.
Tepesch was calm and collected all night. He retired the first 12 batters he faced and didn’t allow a base runner until the fifth inning. Justin Morneau beat the Rangers’ shift with a single to right, but Tepesch responded by retiring the next three batters.
The Twins’ leadoff man reached again in the sixth, but Tepesch got Pedro Florimon to pop up and Brian Dozier to bounce into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Tepesch ran into trouble in the seventh, though.
Josh Willingham sent a solo shot over the left-field wall with one out, and then Chris Parmelee and Trevor Plouffe had consecutive two-out singles.
That ended the night for Tepesch, who allowed one run on five hits with one strikeout. He has not walked a batter over his last 19 1/3 innings.
“My game plan is to attack hitters and go right after guys,” Tepesch said. “I didn’t feel like I had anything extraordinary, but I felt like I commanded my pitches pretty well.”
Robbie Ross entered with runners at first and second in the seventh and ended the Twins’ threat by inducing a groundout by Oswaldo Arcia. Shortstop Elvis Andrus made a nifty play on the grounder as his throw narrowly beat Arcia.
Scheppers worked an interesting, but ultimately scoreless, eighth. Florimon reached with a one-out bloop single and then Dozier doubled to put runners at second and third. The Rangers intentionally walked Joe Mauer to load the bases, but Scheppers got out of it by inducing an inning-ending double play by Willingham.
“He’s not showing any anxiety, and he’s constantly trusting his stuff,” Washington said of Scheppers. “Good things are happening because he’s trusting his stuff.”
Said Scheppers, who has not allowed a run this season: “Definitely nice to get out of it, but definitely want a cleaner inning than that.”
Joe Nathan picked up his seventh save by working around a two-out single in the ninth.
The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Adrian Beltre doubled to left-center field and scored two batters later when Nelson Cruz lined a single off the right-field wall.
Texas pushed its lead to 2-0 with another run in the fifth as Andrus came through with a two-out RBI double.
It was certainly a nice win for the Rangers, especially considering their travel schedule.
“Any win is a good win, and the pitchers were amazing tonight,” Cruz said. “When we need pitching, it’s there. When we need offense, it’s there. Two runs were enough tonight, and I’m glad I could bring one of them in.”