The Twins fell to 1-7 in July with Wednesday’s 4-1 loss. They have lost eight of nine and have fallen below .500 for the first time since they were 14-15 on May 3.
“Texas has been struggling and they beat us two in a row so that tells you where we’re at,” said Minnesota’s Kenny Rogers, the losing pitcher Wednesday. “We’ve got to play with a little more life and enthusiasm.”
While going 6-18 since June 13 and turning a five-game lead in the AL Central into a 4 1/2 -game deficit, Minnesota’s biggest problem has been starting pitching. The Twins have a 5.82 team ERA during that stretch, and their starters have just four wins in the 24 games.
The pitching was decent Wednesday, but Minnesota couldn’t get anything going at the plate. The Twins had just five hits and left 11 men on base. Designated hitter Justin Morneau struck out in all four at-bats.
“We didn’t do much offensively,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We try to be patient, try to take pitches. We put good swings on the ball and they go foul. It’s not like we’re not trying. It’s just not working for us right now.”
Alex Rodriguez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer Wednesday as Texas won its third straight game. The Rangers have won 10 of 15.
Rodriguez has driven in four runs in the last two games.
“I’ve been working hard on my swing and it’s coming around,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve really been trying to work on my mechanics. I’ll be fine.”
STANDINGS: Twins - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL Central. Rangers - 4th place, 20 GB, AL West.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Rick Reed (4-8, 4.54 ERA). The disappointing Reed is coming off one of his strongest performances of the season. The right-hander limited Cleveland to a run and six hits over seven innings in a 9-2 victory on Friday. He had been 0-3 in his previous four starts. Reed is 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA in five games, including four starts, against Texas.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: John Thomson (5-9, 5.69 ERA). After a string of bad outings, Thomson has put together consecutive strong starts. The right-hander is 1-0 in those two outings, allowing just five runs and nine hits in 14 innings while lowering his ERA from 6.05 to 5.69.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Jacque Jones, .300 avg.; Corey Koskie, 14 HRs, 55 RBIs and 48 runs; Luis Rivas, 8 SBs. Rangers - Hank Blalock, .330 avg.; Rodriguez, 22 HRs and 58 runs; Juan Gonzalez, 61 RBIs; Michael Young and Rodriguez, 7 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Rangers, 2-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - The Twins have allowed 23 homers in their last nine games. … Minnesota is two losses shy of its longest losing streak of the season, a pair of six-game skids in April. … OF Lew Ford is day-to-day after bruising his forearm in batting practice on Wednesday. Rangers - Texas had gone 41 games since winning more than two in a row before Wednesday’s victory. … The Rangers have won six of eight at home after losing 10 of their previous 12 at the Ballpark in Arlington. … Texas’ bullpen has given up four runs in 31 innings over the last nine games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 22-22 on the road; Rangers - 22-24 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - OF Jones (groin), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee surgery), 60-day DL; OF Ford (forearm), day-to-day. Rangers - LHP Aaron Fultz (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (oblique), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; INF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL.