Texas Rangers

Twins notch first August runs vs. Minor. Most frustrating Ranger had hand in one of them

Rangers lose to Twins 4-3

Rangers manager Chris Woodward and pitcher Mike Minor discuss Aug. 16's loss to the Minnesota Twins.
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Rangers manager Chris Woodward and pitcher Mike Minor discuss Aug. 16's loss to the Minnesota Twins.

A trip to the visiting clubhouse Friday afternoon provided a reunion of sorts.

Standing just inside the door was Minnesota Twins general manager Thad Levine, a former Texas Rangers assistant GM, and left-hander Martin Perez, a former Rangers pitcher.

Soon to join them was Nelson Cruz, the former Rangers right fielder who continues to be one of the kindest players in the game.

He’s on the injured list and won’t play this series, which is a bad break for the Twins but a relief for Rangers pitchers.

They need all the help they can get.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 4-3 loss.

No margin for error

When a guy is barely hitting his weight, or just below it, and has been doing so for most of the past three seasons, he doesn’t have much room to mess up in other facets of the game.

So, imagine the fans’ reaction with the gaffes Rougned Odor has made the past two games.

A night after a bad base-running decision cost the Rangers a run in their infamous sixth inning, Odor dropped a Miguel Sano popup in the fourth inning. Mex Kepler followed with his 33rd homer of the season.

The Sano run was unearned and the difference in the one-run loss.

In fairness, it was an extraordinarily high popup. The wind was a factor, manager Chris Woodward said. Odor himself said he had never seen a popup moved by the wind like that in his career.

“That’s not an excuse,” Odor said. “That ball was really high. Maybe that’s why it moved. Unbelievable.”

Woodward called it a ball that should still be caught 10 out of 10 times.

Odor continues to be the player who most aggravates the fan base, even though he leads the Rangers in RBIs and entered Friday with a .566 slugging percentage in his previous 42 games.

Joey Gallo, who hasn’t played in three weeks, is the only Rangers player with more home runs than Odor, 22-21.

That’s the allure of Odor, who still has the potential to produce runs. He has improved defensively and has the speed to score from first on a ball in the gap.

He also has around $30 million left on his contract, another reason the Rangers continue to stick with him.

Something will give at some point, either Odor will get better or the Rangers will cut him loose, but that point won’t be this season.

Minor still rolling

The Twins did something that the Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers were unable to do this month: They scored against Mike Minor.

The All-Star left-hander surrendered his first runs since July when Kepler took him deep. Minor allowed another two-run homer in the seventh, this one to Jonathan Schoop, after the Rangers had just taken a 3-2 lead.

But those homers aren’t an indication that Minor is back to his July ways. He’s still in a good place.

He was in control of the game after 25-pitch first inning, even though he said he didn’t executive as well as he did against the Indians and Brewers. He danced around hard contact, with the exception of the two home runs.

“The home runs killed me,” Minor said.

Obviously, he could have made better pitches to Kepler and Schoop, though the pitch to Schoop wasn’t the worst he’s ever thrown, but he again got through seven innings and gave the Rangers a chance to win the game.

Where’s Hunter?

The schedule and the Rangers’ roster composition have put a massive dent into the playing time of All-Star outfielder Hunter Pence, who was on the bench for the eight time this month.

Three games at Milwaukee didn’t help his cause, because there was no designated hitter at the National League park, and a bevy of right-handed pitchers has also contributed to his extra pine time.

Willie Calhoun and Nomar Mazara, both left-handed hitters, have been going well at the plate, and manager Chris Woodward has been hesitant to sit them and the lefty-hitting Shin-Soo Choo.

So, the right-handed-hitting Pence has been out of the lineup.

But there is a potential breakthrough ahead. Woodward has forecast opposing starting pitchers for the next 18 games, and 12 of them are lefties.

Expect plenty of Pence during that stretch, beginning Saturday with a start against a righty.

“He’ll get plenty of playing time coming up, and I kind of knew that,” Woodward said. “It’s either give Choo, Calhoun or Maz a day off to get Pence in the lineup, and that’s hard to do against a righty because those guys are killing righties. That’s the dilemma.”

Pence has been productive when he has played. His last four hits are home runs, including one Thursday in a 13-6 loss to the Twins. He singled Friday in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter.

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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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