The Texas Rangers have struggled with their pitching all season, but it doesn’t matter with the way their offense is going right now.
The Rangers will try to ride their hot bats to a season high-tying third straight victory Tuesday night as they continue a three-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins.
Texas matched its season high in runs for the second consecutive game, hitting three homers in a 14-4 victory over the Twins on Monday, one day after a 14-1 rout of Houston.
Gerald Laird hit his first career grand slam Monday in an eight-run fifth inning and Nelson Cruz and Frank Catalanotto also went deep for the Rangers (18-27), who scored 10 or more runs in back-to-back games for the first time since Sept. 14-15, 2004, against Oakland.
“We didn’t pitch,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “If you don’t pitch, you’re not going to win. (Carlos) Silva left too many pitches up in the zone and (Julio) DePaula had a hard time.”
Rangers manager Ron Washington passed the credit for the recent offensive revival to hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.
“These guys like to bang,” Washington said. “Rudy deserves all the credit for that. He spends a lot of time with these guys. He’s always believed in them and it’s starting to pay off.”
Ironically, Texas’ offensive surge has come without third baseman Hank Blalock, one of their top hitters who is expected to miss three months following shoulder surgery.
Scoring runs hasn’t been a problem for the Rangers, who lead the majors with 64 homers and are fifth in the AL in runs scored (231). A lack of effective pitching - particularly starters - has been the main issue for Texas, which is 13th in the AL in ERA (5.08).
Kameron Loe (1-3, 6.21 ERA) is one of those struggling starters. He was reached for six runs and a season high-tying 10 hits Thursday against Tampa Bay, but didn’t factor in the decision. He has allowed five runs or more in four of his last five starts, pitching past the sixth inning only once in that span.
Loe, however, has performed very well against the Twins, winning both of his starts against them while yielding 10 hits in 13 scoreless innings.
The Twins will start ace Johan Santana (4-4, 3.26), who hopes to avoid his first three-game losing streak in nearly three years.
The two-time AL Cy Young award winner has lost his last two starts despite pitching well enough to win both. The left-hander allowed four runs and 10 hits in 13 innings, with three walks and 17 strikeouts in those two outings.
The Twins scored just one run total in those games, and have scored only five runs in Santana’s four losses. He hasn’t lost three straight starts since dropping four in a row May 18-June 3, 2004.
The Rangers are one of the few teams Santana hasn’t had much success against in his career, a he’s gone 2-2 with a 5.72 ERA in seven career starts versus Texas.
Monday’s loss was the ninth in 12 games for Minnesota (20-24), which is under .500 after 44 games for the second consecutive season. The Twins were 19-25 at this point in 2006, but finished with 96 wins and their fourth division title in five years.