Adrian Beltre has helped the Texas Rangers win a lot of games over the years. On Saturday, he found a surprising way to spark his team to its seventh straight victory.
Beltre and Robinson Chirinos homered to help Yovani Gallardo win for the first time since last July as the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 9-6 on Saturday.
The home run wasn't anything unusual -- he's got 466 of those his 21-year major league career. But he led off the second inning by beating out a ground ball to shortstop, no easy feat for a 39-year-old who has spent almost a month on the disabled list this year with a strained left hamstring.
The infield single led to a six-run rally to help the Rangers overcome an early 2-0 deficit.
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"Speed kills -- don't you know that?" a grinning Beltre said. "Over the last week or so, we've been able to find out how to get guys on, and now we're getting more consistent in bringing those guys in."
Eddie Rosario homered and drove in four runs for the Twins, while Logan Morrison also homered and Mitch Garver had three hits. Minnesota lost its third straight when it couldn't overcome a short start from veteran Jake Odorizzi (3-5).
The Twins did rally for three runs in the ninth and had the tying run at the plate with two outs. But Rangers closer Keone Kela struck out Morrison with the bases loaded to end the game, earning his 18th save in 18 chances.
Gallardo (1-0) was making his second start for Texas after opening the year with Cincinnati. He promptly fell behind 2-0 just five pitches into the game before turning it around and pitching into the sixth inning.
Joe Mauer led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single to left. Then Rosario hit the first pitch he saw into the right-field seats for his 17th home run of the season.
But Gallardo settled down, at one point retiring 12 of 13. Morrison's two-run homer with one out in the sixth inning ended Gallardo's day, but he earned his first victory since July 29, 2017, when he was pitching for Seattle.
Odorizzi retired the side in order in the first inning, but the Rangers knocked him out in a six-run second. The big blows were two-run singles by Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara.
Beltre's second hit of the inning finally spelled the end for Odorizzi, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings. It was the shortest start of his career, other than a one-inning start in 2017 that he was forced to leave due to an injury.
"It just started to unravel," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "A couple guys got on, then he slipped on the mound, then he hit a guy, and even later in the inning after he'd given up some, we still had chances. He got ahead of Mazara 0-2, Beltre he got ahead of, but we just couldn't finish."
Odorizzi, the Twins' opening day starter, has seen his ERA climb steadily in his last six outings. He's allowed 25 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings over that stretch, driving his ERA to a season-high 4.97.
"It's upsetting and frustrating . It's not something I take lightly." Odorizzi said. "I take a lot of pride in getting guys out. Trust me, I'm more frustrated about this than anybody in this clubhouse. This has been one of the tougher stretches in my short big league career."
HIT BATTER BEEF
Rangers 3B Jurickson Profar was hit by pitches three times on Saturday, tying a team record that he also matched just two weeks ago. But the Rangers were not happy with the circumstances surrounding the third time it happened.
Profar stole second base in the fourth inning when the Rangers were leading 9-2. The next time Profar came to bat, Twins reliever Addison Reed threw three inside fastballs, finally hitting him in the leg with the third one.
"I thought the intent there was excessive, especially they tried to dial him up three different times," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The guy's playing baseball hard. I guess you can just look at it that there's a difference in what they're focusing in on and what we're focusing in on."
Molitor didn't try to rationalize Reed's approach to Profar, but he also didn't deny that the dugout took notice when Profar stole a base with a seven-run lead.
"The thought process between the unwritten rules of the game is not clearly defined," Molitor said. "What I might think and what he might think might be different things. I was surprised that (Profar) ran with the score the way it was, when he did. And getting hit there was something that Banister felt wasn't appropriate."
ROMERO TO ROCHESTER
After the game the Twins optioned rookie RHP Fernando Romero to Triple-A Rochester, with a corresponding move to be announced on Sunday. Romero, who made his major league debut on May 2 and won his first two starts, is 3-3 with a 4.38 ERA in 10 starts.
Rangers: 1B Joey Gallo left the game in the third inning with left hamstring tightness. He was replaced by Ronald Guzman.
Twins: 3B Eduardo Escobar returned to the starting lineup for the first time since he was hit by a pitch on the right elbow in the first inning of Thursday's game against Boston.
Rangers: RHP Bartolo Colon (4-4, 4.91 ERA) returns to Target Field to face his former teammates in the series finale Sunday afternoon. Colon went 5-6 in 15 starts for the Twins last season as he helped them clinch the second AL wild card spot.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (7-5, 3.51) will be looking for his first victory since June 7 as Minnesota tries to avoid being swept. In his last two starts he's allowed two earned runs in 12 1/3 innings but took no-decisions against Detroit and Boston.