The way they’re going lately, the Minnesota Twins might want to skip the All-Star break and keep playing.
The Twins have won five out of six for the first time this season after taking the opener of a four-game set at Texas. The second game of the series that leads into the All-Star break is Friday night at Globe Life Park.
Three of those wins have come over the Rangers, who continue to own the best record in the American League at 53-34 despite five losses in last six.
Minnesota (30-55) has outscored the Rangers 32-10 in those three games, all coming since Saturday. The Twins pounded out 18 hits in Thursday’s 10-1 win, including three home runs.
They’re certainly enjoying the recent reversal of fortune.
“It’s awesome,” said Max Kepler, who has six homers in his last 17 games. “It’s everything we ask for in a team. Most of all, we’re all having fun. Everyone is picking each other up. No one is trying to do too much.”
The Twins look to continue their uptick in a rematch of Sunday’s matchup between Kyle Gibson and Texas ace Cole Hamels.
Gibson (2-5, 4.82 ERA) beat the Rangers in that one, after going 6 2/3 innings, surrendering two earned run on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
He has thrown at least six innings in each of his last four starts (Twins are 3-1), and Minnesota pitchers overall have six quality starts in the last seven games.
“It’s been a lot about the starting pitching,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “We came close to putting up another shutout today. Guys are pitching better from top to bottom.”
The Rangers are hoping for a strong outing out of Hamels. They sure could use one.
Texas starters have been shelled lately, especially during a stretch that’s seen five losses in the last six games. No starter has lasted more than 4 2/3 innings in any of those losses, with each allowing at least four runs.
“We can’t continue to cover four or five innings from the bullpen every single night,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “We’re going to find a way. I promise you we’re going to evaluate every situation. We’ll find a way. We’ll figure out just how we’re going better off the mound in a starting role.”
Banister said there is no magic formula to turn things around.
“Stomping my feel, screaming and yelling aren’t going to do much good,” he said. “There are a number of messages that can be delivered to individuals. The bottom line is we’ve got to be better. We have to be better. We’ve been really good some stretches.”
Hamels (9-2, 2.93 ERA) could help stem the tide, but even he’s coming off this worst start of the season. The All-Star gave up five runs in four-inning stint at Minnesota on Sunday.
Hamels is seeking to become first Texas pitcher with 10 wins prior to the All-Star break since Matt Harrison (11-4) and Yu Darvish (10-5) in 2012.
Texas’ injury-riddled staff isn’t likely going to get any reinforcements internally anytime soon. Of the three starters on the shelf, Yu Darvish is the closest to returning, but he’s probably three rehab starts away from rejoining the rotation.
“It has been a challenge,” Banister said.
The Rangers are in the market for starting pitching as the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.
Texas should get first baseman Mitch Moreland back on Friday. He’s missed the last five games with tightness in his right calf muscle.