Wells made a successful first start for Texas, Mark Teixeira homered twice and the Rangers beat Minnesota 10-2 on Wednesday to give the Twins their first losing homestand this season.
Acquired in a deadline-day trade with Pittsburgh, Wells got his first win as an American Leaguer since 2001, when he was with Chicago. He pitched into the sixth inning and was responsible for one run while striking out two.
“Your goal is to have a quality start and give the team a chance to win,” said Wells, who will be a free agent this fall.
And if he’s not included in the long-range plans?
“That’s not something to be preoccupied with,” Wells said. “You have enough to worry about trying to throw strikes and get people out.”
Boof Bonser (2-3), an emergency callup to fill in for rookie left-hander Francisco Liriano, lasted only four innings and left trailing 7-0. The blame was widespread, though. The Twins made two costly errors and hit into six double plays, including one on a strikeout and thwarted stolen base attempt.
“That’s how the game goes,” said Bonser, who was sent right back to Triple-A afterward.
Teixeira homered leading off the second, Gary Matthews Jr. had an RBI single in the third and the Rangers broke open the game in the fourth.
That put two on with two outs, and Gerald Laird followed with a two-run double down the left-field line for a 4-0 lead. Then Morneau muffed a grounder in the hole by Matthews, an error that let Laird score.
Michael Young ripped a first-pitch double that soared over center fielder Torii Hunter to drive in Matthews. Then Carlos Lee hit a chopper to third that Nick Punto charged. He threw wildly past first for another error that allowed Young to come home and make it 7-0.
Bonser, who struck out five, walked two and gave up six hits, finished the inning but that was it. Only four of the seven runs he surrendered were earned.
Liriano, 12-2 with a major league-best 1.96 ERA, was scratched from this start because of inflammation in his forearm. Clearly, he was missed.
“Anytime you don’t have Liriano pitching, it’s going to throw the team off,” said catcher Mike Redmond. “When he takes the mound, we win. That’s it. But hey man, that happens in baseball. We’ve got to get ourselves back on track.”
The Twins surged back into the wild-card race last month, and they were just two games behind the leaders when the afternoon began. But concerns about their starting pitching aren’t helping the cause.
Scott Baker was sent back to the minors Tuesday night with a 6.93 ERA. Brad Radke, likely in the final couple of months of his career, had his last start cut short by ineffectiveness and a sore shoulder. Carlos Silva has a 6.49 ERA, despite a strong outing on Monday. Even ace Johan Santana wasn’t his usual dominant self in July.
Pitching has been an annual summer problem for Texas, which moved back to the .500 mark and began the day three games behind Oakland in the mediocre AL West.
That’s why an effective start by Wells—who gave up seven hits and two walks—was so important.
“At this point I don’t care (why),” manager Buck Showalter said. “I just hope it continues. I haven’t had that conversation with him yet. I’m just trying to leave him alone and let him do his thing.”
The Twins, who put the leadoff man on six times, went 2-4 against the Tigers and Rangers over the past week. They wasted several chances against Wells—who went 1-5 with a 6.69 ERA in seven starts for the Pirates after returning from surgery for a blocked artery near his right shoulder.
The six double plays turned by the Rangers was a franchise record.
“To get a win under my belt is well worth the roller coaster it’s been for the last 72 hours,” Wells said. “This is a good place to be. I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to pitch somewhere.”
Liriano said he’ll make his next start Monday. “It’s not a big deal. It’s just a little tight,” he said. … Teixeira has reached base in a career-high 26 straight games. … Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who has missed three straight games with what has now been diagnosed as a stomach infection, was scheduled to spend Wednesday night in the hospital to receive more intravenous fluids. Team physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni said the manager should be discharged Thursday and could be ready to return to the dugout for Friday’s game at Kansas City. … LF Jason Tyner stole a homer from Young with a leaping catch over the wall in the sixth. … Matt Guerrier, returning from a broken thumb that kept him out the last two months, worked three innings in relief and gave up an RBI single to Matt Stairs in the seventh.