With Hunter swinging a hot bat, the Twins look to inch closer to the .500 mark and sweep a series with the Texas Rangers for the first time in more than three years as the teams conclude a three-game set Wednesday night.
Hunter drove in two runs to set a single-season career high with 104, and helped bring Minnesota (74-77) within three games of .500 with a 4-2 win over Texas on Tuesday night.
Hunter’s previous high was 102 RBIs, set in 2003. The 32-year-old center fielder, batting .291 with 28 home runs and 17 stolen bases, will be a free agent this offseason.
“Coming into the season everybody had individual goals and one of my goals was to have 100 RBIs,” Hunter said. “But we have 11 games left and I’m not stopping.”
Hunter is batting .320 (16-for-50) with a home run, four doubles and eight RBIs in his last 12 games. He has three RBIs in his last two games, helping to put the Twins in position to sweep the Rangers (70-81) for the first time since taking a three-game set from Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2004.
Minnesota also improved to 6-10 in September, and has less than two weeks remaining to get back to .500.
“That’s our goal,” Hunter said. “We got 11 games left and I think we can do it.”
Strong pitching has helped Minnesota’s cause in this series, allowing five runs over the first two games. The Twins, however, will now give the ball to Matt Garza (3-6, 3.93 ERA), who is 1-3 with a 7.66 ERA in his last five starts.
The right-hander gave up four runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 4-2 loss to Detroit on Friday night.
This will be Garza’s first appearance against Texas.
The Rangers will counter with Kason Gabbard (6-1, 4.65 ERA), who has not gotten a decision despite posting a 10.80 ERA in his last two starts. The left-hander allowed seven runs, five hits and walked a career-high seven batters in four innings as Texas lost 11-9 to Oakland on Friday night.
Gabbard’s first career appearance against the Twins was on Aug. 17, giving up one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 loss.
Texas pitchers have been successful at the Metrodome in the team’s last seven games there, posting a 1.34 ERA. The Rangers, however, have only won three of those contests.
Texas has lost seven of eight overall following a season-high, six-game winning streak. The Rangers went 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position Tuesday.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Hank Blalock were both back in the lineup Tuesday after missing Monday’s game with neck injuries stemming from Sunday’s bench-clearing brawl with Oakland. Both players went 1-for-4, with Saltalamacchia driving in his 31st run of the season.