Rangers 8, Twins 6
Gonzalez started an inning-ending double play with a perfect throw from right field, then hit a tiebreaking homer as the Rangers rallied past the Minnesota Twins 8-6 Tuesday night.
“Juan’s been through a lot. When you’re as good a player as Juan is, you have people that want him, including the Rangers,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “He understands as a player and continues to make contributions.”
The Rangers overcame an early 5-0 deficit, but the win was costly. Texas outfielder Kevin Mench—hit by a pitch in the fifth inning—will be out at least a month with a broken left wrist.
“That hurts, coming into the clubhouse and seeing Menchy with a cast on,” said second baseman Michael Young, who had three hits. “Losing a player of Kevin’s caliber to that kind of injury obviously hurts our ballclub.”
Showalter said Mench would be out a minimum of 4-6 weeks.
Mench had two doubles before being hit by a pitch from reliever Juan Rincon to start the fifth. He ran the bases, but was replaced in center field by Donnie Sadler to start the sixth and went for X-rays.
Mench wasn’t in the clubhouse after the game.
While Mench is expected to be a big part of Texas’ future, the Rangers had worked out a deal last month to send Gonzalez to Montreal. But the two-time AL MVP blocked the deal with the no-trade clause in his contract that expires after this year.
The Rangers have made it clear that don’t plan to re-sign Gonzalez after this season if he isn’t traded before the July 31 deadline.
Gonzalez brushed by reporters after the game, saying he had nothing to say.
Rafael Palmeiro hit his 511th career homer, his 21st this season, for the Rangers, who have won nine of 14 games after a 2-20 stretch that was their worst in 30 years.
Gonzalez led off the third with his 21st homer, breaking a 5-5 tie and putting Texas ahead to stay. Gonzalez drove in another run an inning later with a sacrifice fly.
In the top of the third, Bobby Kielty had a leadoff single and moved to second on a groundout before Chris Gomez’s fly to right. Kielty tagged up, but Gonzalez threw a line-drive bullet to All-Star third baseman Hank Blalock for the out and his AL-leading 10th outfield assist.
The Twins were in first place in the AL Central when June ended, but have gone 1-6 in July, dropping to 44-44 and into second place behind Kansas City.
“It’s frustrating. Things aren’t going our way right now,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Jay Powell (2-0) pitched 2 1-3 innings in relief of starter Tony Mounce. Ugueth Urbina pitched the ninth for his AL-leading 25th save in 29 chances, but gave up two hits, a walk and a sacrifice fly to Corey Koskie.
Kyle Lohse (6-7) gave up seven runs and 10 hits in three-plus innings, his fourth straight start in which he pitched less than six innings.
“I can’t figure out what’s going wrong,” Lohse said. “I made a lot of mistakes and they hit them hard.”
Both teams scored five times in the second when the starters combined to throw 83 pitches—38 for Mounce, 45 for Lohse.
Palmeiro led off the second with his homer before two quick outs. Mench and Mark Teixeira then had consecutive doubles before Todd Greene’s RBI single. Alex Rodriguez capped the rally and tied the game with an infield single that drove in two runs.
The bases were loaded and the runners were going on the full-count pitch when Rodriguez hit a high chopper to Gomez. The shortstop made a clean play, but A-Rod beat the throw to first.
Palmeiro then hit a liner to center, but Torii Hunter—who just missed robbing the homer that started the inning when he leaped too soon—made a backhanded catch with his glove just inches off the ground as he rolled forward for the last out.
Minnesota failed to take advantage of a walk and a hit batter in the first, but Gomez had an RBI single after consecutive walks in the second. Luis Rivas added a sacrifice fly before Lew Ford had a two-run double and then ran home for a 5-0 lead after Doug Mientkiewicz slid around Mounce’s tag for an infieldsingle.
The 10 outfield assists match Gonzalez’s career high. … Palmeiro tied Mel Ott for 17th on the career homer list, one behind Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews. Six of Palmeiro’s last seven hits have been homers. … Gonzalez has 426 homers, tying Bill Williams for 32nd on the career list. … Lohse is 0-3with a 11.35 ERA (29 earned runs over 23 innings) his last five starts.