The Minnesota Twins seem happy to be back home for 10 games despite Thursday’s victory being just their seventh in 22 tries at Target Field this season.
The Texas Rangers have less reason to be enthusiastic about Minnesota’s new outdoor digs.
Injuries and inconsistency combined to make the season’s first two months rather forgettable for the Twins (24-38), who have spent the past month toiling in the AL Central basement.
They’re still in last place, but might not be for much longer. Minnesota won for the seventh time in eight games Thursday, topping Texas 5-4 thanks to Alexi Casilla’s(notes) run-scoring single with two outs in the ninth inning.
“We’ve got some energy. We’ve got some life,” Michael Cuddyer(notes), who hit a three-run homer, said after the Twins finally shed the tag of having baseball’s worst record by moving one-half game ahead of Houston.
Only once all season has Minnesota won consecutive games at Target Field, but manager Ron Gardenhire’s team can seemingly do no wrong at home against the Rangers (35-29). The Twins have outscored Texas 43-23 while winning all seven games in the series in Minneapolis since 2010, despite being outhit 68-61.
The Rangers have batted just .217 with runners in scoring position at Target Field and were 1 for 10 in RBI situations Thursday. Texas is batting .167 (8 for 48) with runners on second or third in its past six games.
“We had some great opportunities, and we had people in the spots with those opportunities that we wanted up there,” manager Ron Washington said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Facing Brian Duensing(notes) (3-5, 4.73 ERA) may be just what the Rangers need. Opponents are hitting .353 against the left-hander with runners in scoring position, making Duensing one of the majors’ 10 least effective pitchers in those situations.
Duensing found a way to solve those problems Sunday in scorching Kansas City - he kept runners away from second base. Only two Royals got in scoring position during Duensing’s eight innings in a 6-0 victory, and he struck both ensuing batters out while winning for the first time since April 23.
“A really good performance by Mr. Duensing,” Gardenhire said. “With the heat out there, to last that long was pretty impressive.”
That homer came when Duensing lost 4-3 on Aug. 25 in Arlington to Wilson (6-3, 3.03), who will again be his mound opponent Friday. Wilson has been sharp lately, holding hitters to a .163 average in four straight quality starts.
The best of those outings came Sunday in Cleveland. Wilson gave up three hits and struck out seven over 7 2-3 innings of a 2-0 victory.
“It was like a video game, I used every pitch I had,” Wilson told the Rangers’ official website. “I didn’t try to play country hardball and just throw the ball by people.”