The Minnesota Twins are starting to build some momentum, and they may have the right guy on the mound to further it.
The Twins (49-55) have bounced back from Monday’s 20-5 loss to take the next two games of the series, and Baker (8-5, 2.88 ERA) should give them a good chance to win another one.
The veteran right-hander is 4-0 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts against Texas (59-46) since the start of 2009. His lone complete game of the season came in an 8-1 home win over the Rangers on June 11 when he struck out seven in a five-hitter.
That win is part of a 6-1 stretch with a 1.50 ERA over his last seven outings. He returned after a stint on the 15-day disabled list with an elbow strain and pitched five innings of scoreless three-hit ball in Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Detroit.
The Twins wanted to limit him to 75-80 pitches, and Baker threw 82. He hopes to be able to throw up to 100 on Thursday.
“As the game went on, it was great,” he said. “It was exactly what I wanted to happen.”
Offense wasn’t a problem as they scored 28 runs through their first 13 innings in this series before being held to two over the last 13.
“I figured we can get some runs on the board, it didn’t happen,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
“(Mauer) had a smile from ear to ear. He clicked on it pretty good. It made a good sound for us,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I know we were accused of hitting the ball soft, so we kind of made a statement to hit it harder today.”
Rangers catchers are 9 for 12 in this series, with Mike Napoli(notes) 4 for 5 and Yorvit Torrealba(notes) 5 for 7 with five RBIs. Nelson Cruz(notes) is 7 for 13 with five runs scored in the three games.
Texas has won the last four starts by Matt Harrison(notes) (8-7, 3.05), who is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in those games. He yielded four runs over 6 2-3 innings and did not get a decision in Saturday’s 5-4 victory over Toronto.
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against Minnesota, although he only allowed two runs over six innings in a 6-1 loss June 12.