MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – All-Star shortstop Jorge Polanco homered on his 26th birthday, Martin Perez held his former team scoreless until the seventh inning and the Minnesota Twins routed the Texas Rangers 15-6 on a drizzly Friday night at Target Field.
Polanco and rookie Luis Arraez went deep in a six-run second. Those homers, plus long balls by Jonathan Schoop and Mitch Garver, gave the Twins a major league-record 165 before the All-Star break – surpassing the 161 hit by the Yankees last year. Minnesota finished the entire 2018 season with 166 home runs.
In the second, the Twins slugged six extra-base hits in an inning for the first time in 53 years and only the second since the club moved to Minnesota in 1961. It also happened on June 9, 1966, when the Twins hit five homers and a double in the seventh against the Kansas City A’s.
Perez (8-3), who signed with Minnesota last winter after spending his first seven seasons with Texas, took a four-hit shutout into the seventh before giving up a walk and three consecutive hits for two runs. He left with two on to a standing ovation. Ryne Harper allowed both inherited runners to score, the second on Shin-Soo Choo‘s two-run homer.
Minnesota had a season-high 20 hits, and its 13 extra-base hits tied a club record set earlier this season. The 15 runs tied the most the Rangers allowed in a game this year. Schoop finished 3 for 5 with four RBIs, and four other Twins added two RBIs apiece.
Minnesota entered 7-10 since June 6. A 2-4 road trip to Chicago and Oakland saw Minnesota’s lead over Cleveland in the AL Central – as large as 11 1/2 games in early June – fall to six games, the smallest margin since May 20. But the Twins wasted little time staking Perez to a big lead, batting around in the second and stringing together eight hits off starter Adrian Simpson (6-6).
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz exited in the fourth with right heel discomfort. … Minnesota utilityman Marwin Gonzalez returned to the lineup, in left field, after missing two games with a sore right big toe. … LF Eddie Rosario (sprained left ankle) ran straight ahead on the field before the game but probably won’t be activated Sunday when he’s eligible, manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Once the (All-Star) break ends, we’re hopeful he will be ready soon,” he said. … C Willians Astudillo (left oblique strain) is not close to resuming baseball activities. “It’s a fairly significant oblique injury, and we have to let him heal,” Baldelli said.
Rangers: Texas manager Chris Woodward said he prefers backup catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa (sprained right middle finger) start hitting better on his rehab assignment at Triple-A Nashville before the Rangers bring him back. Kiner-Falefa was 1 for 10 in his first three games with the Sounds.
Twins: RHP Blake Parker went on the paternity list, and the Twins recalled RHP Kohl Stewart from Triple-A Rochester for his fourth stint with the big club. The Twins need a starter for Sunday, but Baldelli doesn’t expect to announce one until after Saturday’s game. Stewart pitched in relief Monday night.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda (5-4, 4.78 ERA) has never beaten the Rangers, going 0-4 with a 5.66 ERA in six starts. Pineda won at Chicago in his last start, allowing one run in six innings while tying his season high with eight strikeouts.
Rangers: RHP Jesse Chavez (3-3, 2.97) makes his third start since joining the rotation. Last time out he lost 6-2 at Tampa Bay. But this could be a good matchup for Chavez, who has allowed one earned run over 18 1/3 innings in four career appearances at Target Field.