It’s the second game of a four-game series between division leaders. Minnesota — thanks to five home runs, including a pinch-hit, tiebreaking, two-run shot by Ryan Jeffers to cap a three-run eighth inning — rallied to take the series opener 7-5 on Thursday.
Dunning (9-5, 3.19 ERA) is 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA in four career starts against the Twins, including a loss two years ago in his lone outing at Minneapolis.
Minnesota, which extended its American League Central lead to six games over the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday, will counter with Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.15). The right-hander is 9-5 with a 3.17 ERA in 17 career games (16 starts) against the Rangers.
The Twins snapped a two-game losing streak with the comeback victory on Thursday, a contest shortstop Carlos Correa called “one of the best wins of the year. That was awesome.”
In the eighth inning, Correa drilled an RBI double off the bottom of the center-field fence to tie the game 5-5. Royce Lewis, who finished 3-for-3 with a home run, then walked, and Texas manager Bruce Bochy summoned veteran left-hander Will Smith to replace right-hander Josh Sborz.
Smith looked as if he would get out of the jam when he induced a double-play grounder from Max Kepler, with Correa advancing to third. But Jeffers then hit Smith’s first pitch 427 feet into the second deck above the bullpen in left-center to give Minnesota its first lead, 7-5.
Jeffers is batting .571 (8-for-14) with two home runs and six RBIs in his career as a pinch hitter.
“That one’s pretty high,” Jeffers said when asked where he’d rank Thursday’s homer among his career pinch hits. “Getting a swing like that, there’s not much more I can say. It’s a big moment.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli added, “If you’re into good play and good drama, this was a pretty good day. We had to battle. They put a lot of pressure on you, but we just chipped away.”
It was a gut-punch loss for Texas, which had three home runs and nine hits in the first four innings while building a 5-2 lead against Twins starter Pablo Lopez.
Marcus Semien led off the game with a home run to end Lopez’s scoreless innings streak at 19, and Corey Seager and Leody Taveras also went deep for the Rangers.
“I saw an offense that did a really nice job against a guy who had been on a roll,” Texas manager Bruce Bochy said. “A good pitcher, we had great at-bats and put five runs on the board. Their long guy (Josh Winder) came in and shut us down. On a night like tonight, the way the ball was flying, you’re hoping to tack on, but he did a really good job for them and they kept chipping away.”
Texas’ lead in the American League West is down to one game over both the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners.
“It just kind of feels like we’re not clicking,” Rangers starter Andrew Heaney said. “Nobody here is questioning anybody’s effort, their preparedness or anything like that. We’re in a rut, but we’ve got to keep going. There’s no alternative.”
—Field Level Media
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