MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers are in similar positions, having traded off key players at the deadline but still hoping to make some noise as the season winds down.
For Minnesota (51-55), the players held meetings on how to handle themselves and their current situation after surprisingly being in contention in the American League Central all season.
Texas (52-56) wants to find some semblance of momentum after falling from second to fourth in the AL West with a 7-11 stretch.
The Rangers won the opener of a four-game series against the Twins on Thursday, 4-1. Joey Gallo crushed a three-run homer.
“It allows us to capitalize on some momentum coming out of the homestand and getaway (game win over the Mariners on Wednesday),” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “I think for us to stack another win on top of it, obviously these guys, they need that right now. We need that. We need to be able to put some wins together.”
The Rangers came out of the All-Star break with two straight wins before slipping. The Thursday victory gave them back-to-back wins for the first time since sweeping Tampa Bay from July 21-23.
Left-hander Martin Perez (5-9, 5.13 ERA) starts for Texas on Friday against Twins right-hander Bartolo Colon (2-9, 7.70).
Perez told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that his recent issues — a 6.30 ERA in five July starts — involved commanding his curveball and slider for strikes.
“I was working on it my bullpen, and I feel better,” Perez told the newspaper.
Perez, who is 0-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his three career games against Minnesota, has lost his past three starts overall. His past five starts followed his return from a right thumb fracture/laceration.
Colon has shown progressive improvement in each of his three starts for the Twins. He allowed three runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings against Oakland on Sunday in his most recent outing.
“I feel good,” said Colon, who pitched with the A’s in 2013 and 2014. “I feel like this is one of my second homes. I thought it went well. I can’t remember the last time I went past the sixth.”
Colon is 20-9 with a 3.57 ERA in 34 career starts against Texas. The 44-year-old veteran will try to spark his latest team Friday.
“I think there’s been a lot of disappointment in the fact that we were in a much better position a couple weeks ago,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “But I know the guys got together and talked amongst themselves. We’ve had a few little chats about trying to keep things in perspective.
“That’s the most important thing is just trying to take a step back and don’t get all wrapped up in some of the things that transpired, especially around the deadline, and just try to go out there and play.”
The Twins are seven games behind first-place Cleveland in the American League Central and 4 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot — as is Texas.
“We’re just going to keep going out there with aspirations of trying to put together a little run here and try to make ourselves relevant,” Molitor said.
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