Texas Rangers

An overdue first career shutout for Mike Minor, but here’s why it might not be the last

Minor: “I think I have better stuff now”

Mike Minor was brilliant Tuesday for the Texas Rangers, tossing his first career MLB shutout in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
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Mike Minor was brilliant Tuesday for the Texas Rangers, tossing his first career MLB shutout in a 5-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Here’s an idea for MLB to consider as a way to increase the pace of play:

Make sure one starting pitcher is overmatching the hitters he’s facing and that the home team is hitting two-run homers.

That was the formula Tuesday night at Globe Life Park, where an entire baseball game between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels was played in under three hours.

Stop the presses!

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 5-0 victory.

1. If, for some reason, you were still worried about Mike Minor being atop the Rangers’ rotation, it’s OK to stop now.

The left-hander is thriving on a longer leash and has moved past his Opening Day hiccup (he pitched better than his line showed) to work at least seven innings in three straight starts.

He’s a Jose Leclerc blown save away from winning each one.

Minor was the best he has been, well, ever.

He had never thrown a shutout in the majors and hadn’t thrown eight scoreless innings since 2013 with the Atlanta Braves. Minor allowed three singles, two to Andrelton Simmons and one to Mike Trout as he legged out an infield squibber, and two walks.

Minor said that his stuff is better than it was during his best MLB season in 2013, and his mind-set is entirely different. It’s a batter-to-batter, pitch-by-pitch kind of thing.

For instance, he walked David Fletcher to start the game and had Trout coming next. Yeesh.

“Usually I would be really ticked off, which I was, but Mike Trout’s coming up,” Minor said. “You don’t want that to be 2-0, so let’s make some pitches.”

As good as he was, he said he can be better. He hasn’t been consistent with his slider and doesn’t have the command of all of his pitches yet.

So, the best is yet to come?

“I’m just trying to put some stuff together right now,” said Minor, who threw 103 pitches but only 15 in the final two innings. “Every game we’ve gotten a little bit better. If I could get everything working, that’s when you’re controlling every pitch and that’s when you’re locked in.”

2. Minor gave a great deal of credit to catcher Jeff Mathis, for putting down the right fingers and devising a game plan that bucked the trend of Minors’ start last week at Arizona.

“That’s nice of him to say that,” Mathis said.

But there is truth to it. A catcher’s job is to get a pitcher though his innings, and Mathis has a reputation of doing that as well as anybody in the game.

It’s a skill, but it takes time. Mathis likes to spend as much time getting to know pitchers away from the field to get an understanding of what makes them tick. When something hits the fan, Mathis can call on something he has learned to help a pitcher clean up the mess.

Mathis, though, admitted that a pitcher’s shutout is rewarding for the catcher.

“Anytime you’re able to get a guy through nine innings throwing the ball the way he did, it feels good,” Mathis said. “No doubt.”

3. Joey Gallo was 2 for 3 with a mammoth two-run homer that accounted for the Rangers’ final two runs, but the walk he drew in the fourth inning was also key in the victory.

He was down 1-2 in the count after swinging through a Jaime Barria slider. Barria threw three more sliders, and Gallo didn’t bite at any of them to take the way.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a two-run homer two pitches later for a 3-0 lead. Give an assist to Gold Glove right fielder Kole Calhoun, who jumped at the right-field wall to make the catch only to have the ball hit his right wrist and hop over the fence

“The at-bat right before that with Joey, that was a big one just to get to Cabrera,” manager Chris Woodward said. “Calhoun, he’s an elite defender and normally he catches that ball. To get fortunate for that ball to bounce over the fence, obviously that’s huge for us to get a 3-0 lead instead of a 1-0 lead.

Gallo entered Monday batting .171 but is 5 for 8 in the first two games against the Angels to boost his average to .245. He has homered in all five of his games this season against them.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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