Texas Rangers

Rangers reaction discovers how Mike Minor got his groove back

Most of us were convinced that Mike Minor’s rough July had everything to do with the pressure and distraction of the pending trade deadline.

While that may have actually been a contributing factor, a slight tweak of his delivery is what he says has helped him return to form.

That form has hardly been better than Sunday afternoon when he baffled the Milwaukee Brewers for eight innings as the Texas Rangers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win at Miller Park.

The offense continues to struggle to drive in runs, but Minor is firmly back in the same place that made him an All-Star. He won his third consecutive start and has a string of 16 scoreless innings, including 15 in his past two starts.

The Rangers begin a three-game series against the Blue Jays Monday night in Toronto. The series will close out their 10-day, nine-game road trip.

Minor said he was spinning his upper body too much during his delivery while he went 1-2 with a 6.59 ERA in five July starts.

“I feel like I’m mechanically better, more compact and more straight towards the plate,” said Minor, who also pitched seven scoreless innings in the road trip opener in Cleveland. “I think in July I was coming around everything. I was kind of spinning on the mound and it was harder for me to locate. It sounds simple but it’s not as easy as it sounds.”

The fix has allowed Minor to throw to both sides of the plate more accurately. In July, he only had one double-digit strikeout game. Against the Brewers, who recorded 11.

Chris Woodward returns to Toronto

The trip to Toronto will be the first for Chris Woodward as a manager. Woodward was drafted by Toronto in 1994 and played the majority of his career there from 1999-04 and in 2011.

Joe Palumbo or Pedro Payano?

Joe Palumbo will return to the Rangers’ rotation this season but it still could be another week. The club wants Palumbo to move his pitch count up to the 85 to 90 range in at least one more start with Triple-A Nashville before recalling him. He threw 72 pitches in five innings on Friday for Nashville. He’s made two starts since missing three weeks with a strained left foot. Woodward said it’s likely that Pedro Payano and Palumbo will start the doubleheader against the Los Angeles Angles on Aug. 20 at Globe Life Park.

Payano has been decent since being called up but struggled Saturday night and left after three innings. He has a 3.86 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. Palumbo struggled in two June starts (his first in the big leagues) but didn’t allow an earned run in three innings of relief on July 7, his last appearance in the majors.

Rangers struggling lately in one-run games

The Rangers are 19-19 in one-run games. No other team in the AL has played more one-run games than Texas, including all three games in Milwaukee. Since the All-Star break, the Rangers are 4-6 in one-run games. Woodward doesn’t read too much into the one-run results. Although he did blame the two losses to the Brewers on less than stellar play by his team.

“You’ve got to dig deeper than overall record,” he said. “If you fought to get back to a one-run [deficit] and had the tying run at the plate when you had no business doing that, it’s hard to view that negatively.”

It would be more alarming, Woodward said, if the Rangers had the lead and were losing a lot of one-run games in later innings. That’s what happened Friday night when Eric Thames beat them with a walk-off homer in the ninth.

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Stefan Stevenson has been covering sports for the Star-Telegram since 1997. He spent five years covering TCU athletics, which included two BCS bowls, two trips to the college World Series and the move to the Big 12. He has covered the Texas Rangers since 2014 and started reporting on the Dallas Cowboys in 2016.