Minor: “I think I have better stuff now”
Get ready for some Fun with Shutouts, the Texas Rangers edition, in light of the nine zeroes Mike Minor threw at the Los Angeles on Tuesday.
As has been established, it was the first shutout of the left-hander’s career, which essentially was derailed three seasons by a shoulder injury. Then, there was the 2017 season in which he was a reliever and last season in which he was held to strict pitch and inning limits.
“I had a really good year in 2013 right before my shoulder started hurting me,” Minor said. “I think I have better stuff now than I did back then.”
His gem in the 5-0 victory was also a long time coming for the Rangers in a few ways:
▪ It was the first shutout by a Rangers pitcher since A.J. Griffin blanked the San Diego Padres on May 9, 2017.
▪ It was the first shutout by a Rangers pitcher in Arlington since Colby Lewis flirted with a no-hitter Sept. 11, 2015, against the Oakland A’s.
▪ It was the first shutout by a Rangers pitcher against the Angels at Globe Life Park since Kenny Rogers’ perfect game July 28, 1994.
The Rangers have shut out two opponents this season, both at home, though the first was a combo effort. Minor started that April 3 game against the Houston Astros and tossed seven scoreless innings in a 4-0 win. The Rangers had only one shutout at home last season.
“It feels good, but it feels really good that we got the win,” Minor said. “We’ve been playing well.”
But how close was he to not getting the chance at the shutout? Well, he and manager Chris Woodward talked that out while the Rangers batted in the eighth.
Minor was at 96 pitches, a very efficient number, and threw 105 pitches in his previous start. The top of the Angels’ order, also known as Mike Trout, was coming.
There was going to be some leeway.
“Yeah, that’s always the hard one, right?” Woodward said. “Anytime you’ve got a chance to get a shutout as a starting pitcher nowadays, it’s so rare. I’m kind of old school in that way. I was going to let him go a little further than I wanted. But at the same time, understanding that I don’t want to hurt him for the next start or make him risk injury or anything like that.
“I was pretty honest with him going into the ninth: ‘If a guy gets on, I’m not going to pull you, but just be mindful, if a couple guys get on, I’m probably going to come get you.’ I didn’t really want to put him in that situation. But he made it easy. He got the last two outs on two pitches. That was great.”
Minor knew he would get a chance at the shutout when he came off the field after the eighth. No one was their to shake his hand, the universal baseball sign that a pitcher’s day is done.
“I came in and didn’t see any hands. Saw lot of knuckles,” he said. “’OK, I’m going back out there.’”