The Twins, meanwhile, hope to extend their own division lead as the four-game set continues Tuesday night in Arlington, where Minnesota’s Carl Pavano(notes) looks to improve on some troubling recent results.
Only a ninth-inning single by Joe Mauer(notes) prevented the Twins (72-53) from being no-hit by Rich Harden(notes) and three relievers in Monday’s 4-0 loss - a feat that would have been even more impressive considering Minnesota leads the majors with a .280 batting average.
“That’s baseball,” said Harden, who was on a limited pitch count after coming off the disabled list. “We had (Neftali) Feliz, who’s one of the best closers in the game facing Mauer, who’s one of the best hitters in the game. That’s the way it goes.”
The Rangers (70-54) settled for widening their edge on second-place Oakland to 8 1/2 games as they chase their first division title since 1999. Texas has recovered from a four-game losing streak by winning three of four, with Josh Hamilton(notes) totaling eight hits and eight RBIs in that stretch.
Minnesota has still won eight of 11 and 21 of 28 to take a 4 1/2-game lead on Chicago in the AL Central, with Mauer leading the surge. The reigning AL MVP is batting .465 with 23 RBIs in his last 24 games.
“You definitely don’t want to get no-hit,” Mauer said. “It’s nice to get a hit up there but we want runs.”
The Twins also want Pavano (15-8, 3.52 ERA) to become the second AL pitcher to 16 wins, but the right-hander has run into some problems lately.
Pavano allowed 15 hits - the most in 2010 by any pitcher in a single start - and seven runs in six-plus innings of an 11-0 loss to the White Sox on Thursday, the fourth straight start where his combined hits and walks have totaled at least 11.
Opponents are hitting .373 against him in four August outings after posting a .238 average against Pavano through the end of July.
“Maybe I’m getting a little too much of the plate and the ball’s up a little bit or maybe I’m being a little too predictable as far as my pitch sequences,” Pavano said. “It’s something I’m going to have to revisit and look at and make some adjustments, that’s for sure.”
Pavano beat the Rangers with seven strong innings in an 8-3 win May 29, but he’s posted a 25.20 ERA in two short starts at Arlington, both last year.
Lewis has a 3.20 ERA in his last six starts, but he’s 0-5 in that stretch - primarily because Texas has scored a total of four runs for him. The right-hander hasn’t gotten any run support in his last two outings.
“Sometimes you get pitchers that go out there and they don’t have the luxury of getting runs,” manager Ron Washington said. “Colby lately has been that guy.”
Lewis suffered a similar result at Minnesota on May 28, working six solid innings in a 2-1 defeat. The Rangers were swept in that three-game series at Target Field, but they’ve been much better at home, going 40-23.