ARLINGTON (AP) – Ervin Santana was outstanding on the mound. Miguel Sano hit a big home run.
Nothing out of the ordinary for the Minnesota Twins this season.
Santana delivered his fourth straight excellent start, Sano sparked a seven-run fifth inning with a tape-measure homer and the Twins pounded the Texas Rangers 8-1 Tuesday night. Sano, who’s improving as a third baseman, also made three standout fielding plays.
With the easy win, the Twins returned to .500 and go into Wednesday’s series finale seeking their first sweep of a three-game road series since last May.
“Everything is clicking right now,” Santana said.
Santana (4-0) allowed a run, four hits and one walk with six strikeouts in seven innings. He went into the game leading major league starters in ERA (0.64) and opponents’ batting average (.099).
Santana sparkled at a venue that had previously frustrated him. In 17 previous starts at Globe Life Park, he was 6-7 with a 6.93 ERA.
Kennys Vargas also homered for Minnesota, his first since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester last Sunday.
Both homers came off Andrew Cashner (0-2), who labored through his four-plus innings. He matched a career high with six walks, allowed five hits, had a wild pitch and threw 92 pitches.
“It really became challenging for him to find a feel for the baseball,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
Texas’ Joey Gallo ripped a solo homer down the right field line in the fifth, his team-leading seventh of the season and fifth in the last seven games.
Cashner was chased by Sano’s home run, his fifth of the season, on an 0-2 curve ball launched into the second deck down the left field line. It was the 21st homer hit in that area in Globe Life Park’s 24 seasons.
Of Sano’s three excellent fielding plays, Minnesota manager Paul Molitor was most pleased with the 6-foot-4, 262-pounder throwing out speedy Carlos Gomez on a first-inning bunt.
“It’s just amazing a man of that size has that quickness and ability and makes that play,” Molitor said.
Sano said he tries to learn by watching standout third basemen like his friend, Baltimore’s Manny Machado, and Texas’ Adrian Beltre.
The Rangers have lost seven of 12 and are 5½ games out of first place. It’s their largest deficit since being six games out on Aug. 4, 2015, before they rallied to win the first of consecutive AL West titles.
WORTH A LOOK
Molitor wants to watch the power-hitting Vargas, who was sent down after hitting .067 in spring training, play consecutive games Tuesday and Wednesday at DH. That means giving days off to Robbie Grossman, who leads the league with a .448 on base percentage.
“Robbie has done a really good job from both sides of the plate,” Molitor said. “I’m going to keep trying to find ways to keep him in there fairly consistently.”
Two Rangers baserunners were thrown out trying to advance on pitches that got away from Twins catcher Jason Castro. … Cashner has pitched 15 1/3 innings this season, and Texas has yet to score for him. His three opposing starters all rank in the AL’s top eight in ERA. . Eddie Rosario had two hits to extend his hitting streak to eight games, matching a career high.
Twins: LHP Ryan O’Rourke has a partially torn UCL and will have Tommy John surgery, general manager Thad Levine announced Tuesday. O’Rourke began the season on the 10-day disabled list with a strained forearm and was transferred to the 60-day DL on Monday.
Rangers: RHP A.J. Griffin (gout, left ankle) will throw a second bullpen session on Wednesday. If all goes well, Griffin will probably start Friday night vs. the Angels.
Twins: LHP Hector Santiago (2-1) has a string of three straight quality starts. He allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in beating Detroit 6-3 last Friday.
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (1-0) compiled season highs in innings (eight) and pitches (107) last time out, a 6-2 win over the Royals last Friday night.
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