ARLINGTON, Texas — Jordan Luplow and Christian Vázquez snapped extended slumps with home runs in the go-ahead seventh inning after Texas starter Max Scherzer left the game as the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins beat the slumping Rangers 5-1 on Friday night.
“No one could really get anything going. No one could really have a good inning. It was more like a good swing, but not a good inning,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That was a good inning.”
All of Minnesota’s runs came against Texas relievers after Scherzer struck out seven and allowed only one hit in six innings before he departed after 88 pitches with a 1-0 lead.
Scherzer, in his sixth start for the Rangers since being acquired in a trade from the New York Mets, said he was dealing with some forearm tightness and communicated that to pitching coach Mike Maddux. The three-time Cy Young Award winner insisted that he is OK, and just didn’t want that to become an extended problem.
“There in the sixth inning, I could tell my location was starting to get of. Now I can tell that I was kind of at my limit, even though my shoulder was good, my arm’s good,” Scherzer said. “I didn’t go out there and put myself in a dangerous position. I was not going to go out there and hurt myself. You come up with a forearm strain now, you’re done for the year. So that’s where you’ve got to be smart and take a blow when you need it.”
The lone hit against him was when Royce Lewis was credited with an infield single on a sharp grounder off third baseman Ezequiel Duran in the fourth.
Minnesota right-hander Joe Ryan (10-8) also struck out seven and allowed only one run and three hits over six innings. He also struck out seven in five innings last Saturday in another game against Scherzer, in a 6-2 win by Texas when both got no-decisions.
The Rangers (75-59) lost for the 11th time in 14 games. They returned home from a 3-6 trip having lost the AL West lead they had held for 148 of the season’s first 149 days. They are now in third place, but only a game behind the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros, still tied atop the division after both also lost Friday.
Brock Burke (5-3) took over for Texas to start the seventh, when Carlos Correa ended his own 0-for-12 slide with a one-out single before pinch-hitter Luplow went the opposite way with a 381-foot drive to right after being hitless his previous 16 at-bats. Vázquez broke out of an 0-for-18 drought with a solo homer.
“We go through rough stretches every season, so it’s just part of the game,” Luplow said. “Hitting is contagious is what they say. So, you know, just trying to keep it rolling.”
Jorge Polanco add a two-run shot in the eighth off Josh Sborz, the second Texas reliver.
All-Star shortstop Corey Seager hit his 26th homer for Texas, and officially qualified as the AL leader with his .345 batting average. Seager has missed 40 games this season because of two stints on the injured list, and didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify until his fourth at-bat Friday. Tampa Bay third baseman Yandy Diaz began the day as the AL leader at .327.
Twins CF Andrew Stevenson made a leaping catch at the wall in the fourth that likely took a two-run homer away from Mitch Garver. That was the same inning Seager led off by going deep. … Scherzer has a 2.21 ERA in his six starts for Texas, with 47 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings.
Twins: Byron Buxton (right hamstring strain) was pulled from his second rehab game at Triple-A St. Paul after reporting increased soreness in his patella tendon (knee). The Twins said he would be re-evaluated. … Utility player Willi Castro (left oblique strain), who returned home from rehab at St. Paul for the birth of his second daughter Thursday, is expected to join the Twins in Texas, and could be activated Sunday.
Rangers: All-Star RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right forearm strain) threw an extended bullpen session. He hasn’t pitched since July 18, his only start since the All-Star break. The Rangers plans to see how he feels this weekend coming out of that session. Without any setbacks, he could pitch as early as next week without doing a rehab assignment.
A matchup of left-handers Saturday when 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel pitches for the Twins against Jordan Montgomery, who is 2-1 with 2.30 ERA in five starts for Texas since being acquired from St. Louis at the trade deadline. The 35-year-old Keuchel signed a free-agent deal in June, and is 1-1 with a 3.50 ERA in four games (three starts) since getting called up by the Twins.
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