KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward was hoping Willie Calhoun’s arrival from Triple-A Nashville would help ignite a club that had slogged through five straight losses.
Calhoun did exactly that.
A two-run homer in the first inning by the former top prospect set the tone, Ronald Guzman added a two-run shot of his own and the Rangers rolled to a 6-1 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
“He comes in and is kind of the spark player that gets us going,” Woodward said about Calhoun. “I’m not surprised. I’ve seen that bat. He’s got amazing hands with that swing. It was nice to see.”
Shin-Soo Choo added a solo shot in the ninth inning and Nomar Mazara matched a career high with four hits as the Rangers won for the sixth time in their last eight games against Kansas City.
Mike Minor (4-3) got through five rocky innings, allowing one run on eight hits and two walks.
“I would grade it as a ‘C’ by his standards,” Woodward said. “But it showed a lot of our guys that you don’t have to have your best stuff to be successful.”
Guzman drove in a run in the fourth before sending a hanging pitch from Jorge Lopez (0-5) booming into the center field seats in the sixth. The two-out shot broke open a 3-1 game and sent Lopez, who had plunked two batters and struggled with command all night, trudging toward the showers.
Lopez allowed seven hits and two walks while striking out seven.
“Command got him,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He was fighting command up to the point he elevated his pitch count. He got burned on his two center-cut curveballs for home runs.”
Calhoun, called up from the minors before the game, got the Rangers off to a good start. The erstwhile elite prospect sent a first-inning pitch from Lopez soaring into the seats over the right-field bullpen, the no-doubt shot staking Texas to a 2-0 lead.
“His first night, he comes up and when you have a guy like Mike Minor pitching, getting ahead is huge,” Mazara said. “He really got us going.”
Kansas City answered by manufacturing a run in the bottom half against Minor, whose last appearance at Kauffman Stadium came as the Royals’ closer in the final game of the 2017 season. But after Adalberto Mondesi’s RBI single, the veteran left-hander escaped the rest of the inning unscathed.
It wasn’t the last time he negotiated trouble.
Minor also stranded runners on second and third in the second and fourth, and he pinned another runner 90 feet from home in the fifth. By the time that inning ending, Minor had survived a shaky night and has still allowed just 11 earned runs over his last 55 innings.
“He was making pitches close to what he wanted to do. I just kept helping him out,” the Royals’ Whit Merrifield said. “He was throwing fastballs up and in, out of the zone. I don’t know why I kept swinging at them, but I kept swinging at them.”
The Rangers’ bullpen allowed only one hit over the final four innings.
The Rangers return to the field Thursday at noon for the final game of the series with the Royals.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)