The Rangers bring a six-game losing streak with them, the latest being a 6-3 loss to Zac Gallen and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
Texas, which led the American League West by five games at the start of July and seemed in good shape to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, now finds itself in a three-way dogfight for the division lead with the Houston Astros and the red-hot Seattle Mariners.
The Rangers also are in a potential battle with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox and their two division rivals for a wild-card spot.
Texas manager Bruce Bochy, who directed the San Francisco Giants to three World Series titles, said his team needs to snap out of its funk against the Twins.
“Minnesota, we’ve got to see where we’re at,” Bochy said. “It’s time to pick it up. It’s go time.
“We worked hard to be in this position. We can’t let it get away from us. It’s time to play good baseball. I think it’s a challenge for all us to amp it up in here.”
Part of the problem has been an offensive slump. The Rangers, who rank second behind just the Atlanta Braves in the majors in team batting average (.269) and runs scored (708), have averaged just 2.83 runs and batted .195 during the losing streak.
“Basically, you just keep playing,” shortstop Corey Seager, the MVP of 2020 World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We’ve talked all year long about just trying to win series. So today comes and you are going to go out there and try to win and then move on to the next one. You don’t panic and just keep moving forward. Your psyche doesn’t change.”
How the Rangers perform against Minnesota the next two weeks will go a long way toward determining whether they can turn things around. The teams play seven times, including a three-game set in Arlington, Texas, from Sept. 1-3. Texas follows that up with a three-game showdown against the visiting Astros.
“It’s a playoff race,” Rangers second baseman Marcus Semien said. “Yes, there are other teams who are fighting with us, but we have to get ourselves right, focus on us.”
Minnesota, after getting swept in a two-game series at Milwaukee, also begins a big two-week stretch in its quest for the American League Central title. Besides the seven games with Texas, the Twins have home-and-home, three-game series with defending division champion Cleveland Guardians.
Right-hander Pablo Lopez (9-6, 3.51 ERA) will start the Thursday opener for the Twins. He be opposed by left-hander Andrew Heaney (9-6, 4.27).
Lopez, who is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in one career start against Texas, brings in a 19-inning scoreless streak. He is 4-0 with a 0.36 ERA in four August starts, having allowed 19 hits and one run over 25 innings while striking out 27 and walking three.
In his latest start, a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Lopez allowed six hits and two walks over six scoreless innings while striking out seven.
“He’s doing everything at a very high level,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said after that outing. “The strike-throwing, all the off-speed pitches, I mean, the changeup was really good today. Everything was really good today. … He’s doing it all right now, is what he is doing.”
Heaney is 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA in five career appearances, four starts, against the Twins. He is 4-0 with a 3.09 ERA over his past seven starts.
The Twins will attempt to bounce back after allowing two unearned runs in the bottom of the 10th inning on Wednesday to fall 8-7 to the Brewers.
—Field Level Media
Original source here
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