The Texas Rangers have allowed 38 runs in their last four games, including 10 in the first four innings on Thursday night in an eventual 13-6 loss to the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins in the opener of their four-game series in Arlington, Texas.
The good news for Chris Woodward's club is that All-Star left-hander Mike Minor (11-6, 2.90 ERA) will be on the mound for Game 2. He will be opposed by right-hander Jake Odorizzi (13-5, 3.44) in what has the makings of a pitcher's duel.
Minor is 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 12 career appearances (one start) against the Twins. That start came in a 5-4 win last season at Target Field, when he allowed one run on three hits over six innings.
Minor has won his last three starts, including the last two by 1-0 scores at Cleveland and Milwaukee. He pitched a combined 15 innings in those two games and allowed just 11 hits and two walks while striking out 18.
Now he faces a Minnesota team that is on pace to obliterate the major league single-season home run record of 267 set by the New York Yankees last season. The Twins clubbed three more homers in Thursday night's victory -- the 36th time this season they've hit three or more home runs in a game -- and have hit 236 homers this season.
"This is a team that if they get ahead in the count, they're the most dangerous team in baseball," Woodward told reporters of the Twins after Thursday's loss. "We've got to be willing to go after these guys, attack to certain areas. If we don't, they're going to take severe advantage of those counts. They did that today."
Odorizzi is 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA in seven career starts against Texas, including 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in two career starts in Arlington. He has won two of his last three starts this season, including a 4-1 victory over Cleveland on Saturday in Minneapolis when he blanked the Indians over 5 2/3 innings on six hits and four walks. He struck out six.
The Twins pounded out 14 hits in the series opener while building an 11-0 lead, including home runs by standout rookie infielder Luis Arraez, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. Marwin Gonzalez continued his hot hitting by going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while Jorge Polanco and Jake Cave each had two hits and two runs scored as Minnesota moved on from a tough 6-5 loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday.
"The game plan wasn't anything different than it has been all year," said Cave, who was called up from Triple-A when starting center field Byron Buxton went on the injured list with a shoulder injury. "Coming off a loss, you want to come back with a win, especially with a new series. We just wanted to get on (Rangers starter Pedro Payano) early, and the guys did a really good job."
"The guys are swinging the bats well," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We started out pretty good the first couple of innings and just carried it out. There were good swings throughout the game all the way up and down the lineup. ... I thought we drove the ball well. I thought we impacted the ball well."