Few offenses in all of baseball have been as good as the Rangers’ since the All-Star break.
Statistically speaking, there haven’t been any. Nope, not even Boston.
Texas entered Saturday leading MLB in runs (99), home runs (27), total bases (261), and runs per game (7.07) since baseball took its festivities to the nation’s capital in mid-July.
Scratching your head as to why this club began the weekend just 7-7 in games since the break? Look no further than the pitcher’s mound where Texas’ staff started the day giving up a big-league high in runs (96), HR (25, tied with the Reds), opponent batting average (.298) and opponent OPS (.904) since the break.
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That’ll do it.
Mike Minor set out to lower those numbers on Saturday, and also avenge his most recent outing against the Orioles, which happened to come in the pre-break finale at Baltimore.
He did that and then some by allowing just one run in seven innings with six strikeouts in a 3-1 Texas (49-63) victory in front of 24,300 at Globe Life Park. It was a much better result than the 2 2/3 innings he last threw against the Birds when he allowed 5 earned-runs in a 6-5 loss.
“First of all he filled up the strikezone with all of his pitches. He threw an excellent mix,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “I thought the elevated fastball played well for him, allowed him to go down with his off-speed. He used the off-speed early, and worked the strikezone. He kept these hitters in swing mode. All the hits were singles so there was no real damage.”
“The last couple of months I’ve felt better,” Minor added. “I’m getting better with my pitches every week.”
Minor (8-6) was staked to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with a Joey Gallo moon-shot to right field off of Orioles starter Dylan Bundy (7-10). It was the third straight game Gallo has homered in and the 29th on the season.
Not to be outdone, Rougned Odor launched a solo shot into the night’s sky in the eighth to homer in his third straight game. It’s the third time in his career he’s achieved such a feat.
“Both of them are swinging the bat very well and seeing the baseball very well,” Banister said.
The Orioles (33-78) didn’t get on the board until the seventh when Mark Trumbo laced a two-out RBI single (on a 3-2 pitch) into centerfield to cut Texas’ lead to 2-1. Rangers pitching coach Doug Brocail made a brief visit to the mound before leaving Minor out there.
This was precisely the type of moment Banister referred to in his pre-game availability with the media when he mentioned that “self correct” a pitcher must have when it appears as though he may have lost himself in the middle of an inning.
“It’s key for pitcher’s at this level,” he said. “Can they self correct in the middle of an inning. Can they get their delivery back?”
Minor settled down in time to get Trey Mancini to ground out to Odor to end the inning, and his outing.
“He doesn’t ever talk to me,” Minor said, laughing. “He usually comes out and tells me what I threw the first time and what I threw the second time. What I threw to get the guy out, first pitch, last out.”
It worked. So too did Banister’s decision to hand the ball off to Jose Leclerc in the ninth inning, where he picked up his first save of the season.