Byrd bounces back, leads Loe and Rangers past Twins 5-0
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Marlon Byrd has become the cleanup hitter for these rebuilding-again Texas Rangers. With only 25 career home runs less than two weeks before his 30th birthday, Byrd is not about to forget what his role really is.
“My main thing is someone needs to hit behind Michael Young and be able to get him pitches,” said Byrd, who rebounded from a rough game on Friday. “If they aren’t giving him pitches, we’re going to struggle on the offensive side. I have to go up there, and I have to put a little bit of fear in these pitchers’ hearts so he gets some balls to hit.”
In a 2-1 defeat the night before, Byrd struck out with two runners on to end the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, he misplayed a shallow leadoff single for a two-base error that let the eventual winning run take third.
But Byrd, who became the regular center fielder when Kenny Lofton was traded last month, followed Young’s walk in the fourth inning Saturday with a two-run shot against Boof Bonser (5-10). Byrd’s line drive barely cleared the wall in left and made it 2-0.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia also went deep to start the fifth against Bonser, who fell to 0-8 in his last 12 starts and saw his ERA rise to 4.93 after struggling again with his control.
“I thought they were good ones, but obviously they got hit for home runs,” Bonser said. “That’s just the luck that’s been going for me.”
Loe (6-9) came off the disabled list and threw five shutout innings, overcoming five walks by ending four of those innings with two runners on. The Twins stranded a man on third base three times against him.
He allowed only three hits and struck out two while reaching his predetermined limit of 80 pitches. The 6-foot-7 right-hander hadn’t appeared since July 29 because of back spasms.
“My back felt good. I battled. I got a bunch of ground balls,” Loe said. “I tried to attack the zone as much as possible and gave us five scoreless innings, so I did exactly what I set out to do.”
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire called him “effectively wild.”
“He would throw four straight balls and then throw some of the nastiest sinkers you’ve ever seen,” Gardenhire said.
Bonser wasn’t quite as wild, but he wasn’t nearly as effective.
In the fifth inning that he failed to finish, Byrd hit a sharp bouncer through the right-hander’s legs with two outs and runners on second and third. Second baseman Alexi Casilla stopped the ball and fired a tough throw to first base. Justin Morneau couldn’t scoop it, Byrd was credited with an infield single and a pair of RBIs, and Texas had a 5-0 lead.
Bonser walked the next batter and was replaced by Juan Rincon after surrendering seven hits, all five runs and three walks. Gardenhire reiterated his support for Bonser—despite a good report on the rehab assignment for left-hander Glen Perkins, who is one of the organization’s top starting pitching prospects and could be ready to rejoin the team by September.
Bonser will stay in the rotation for now.
“I think he’s earned a chance to go back out there a few times,” Gardenhire said. “He’s a pretty good pitcher. He’s done OK. He’s handled himself fine at 24 years old. He’s doing fine. Tonight wasn’t one of his better outings, but Boof has been battling pretty good.”
The start of the game was delayed more than a half-hour for an on-field re-enactment of the 1987 World Series victory parade—and subsequent introductions and speeches—featuring most of the members of that team. The home team is a long way from the ticker tape right now, after falling back to .500 with another fruitless effort at the plate. The Twins were shut out for the 12th time this season, most in the majors.
“Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the job done,” said slumping Michael Cuddyer, who went 0-for-3.
Cuddyer threw out Frank Catalanotto at home from right field in the first inning. Cuddyer, who is second in the majors with 16 outfield assists, fired a two-hopper to catcher Joe Mauer—who barely brushed Catalanotto’s arm with his glove. … Loe’s previous win was on July 1 at Boston. … Minnesota SS Jason Bartlett missed his second straight game because of a strained hamstring he initially believed would allow him to return by Saturday. He felt the muscle grab during agility drills before the game and will probably be out for a few more days. … Loe has befuddled the Twins before: He’s 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA in four career starts against them.