MINNEAPOLIS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — After spending 14 years in the Korea Baseball Organization, Hyeon-Jong Yang made his first major league start with the Texas Rangers and helped lift the team over the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on Wednesday night.

Yang, the former South Korea MVP, struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced and eight overall in 3 1/3 innings. Making a spot start after two relief appearances earlier this season, Yang gave up four hits.

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Yang, who came to his postgame video conference wearing the cowboy hat representing the Rangers player of the game, opened the game by striking out Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz.

“Three strikeouts really helped me to find my own rhythm,” Yang said through an interpreter. “Although I didn’t pitch for a whole lot of innings, but I think I’m pretty happy with the result I had.”

Hyeon-Jong Yang #36 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on May 05, 2021 in Minneapolis. (credit: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

John King (3-1) picked up the win in relief of Yang, giving up just two hits in 2 2/3 innings. Ian Kennedy notched his ninth save.

Nate Lowe had a pair of hits and scored a run for Texas, who won for the fourth time in five games. The Rangers scored their runs on a fielder’s choice, wild pitch and sacrifice fly.

“Not being nitpicky, but I got 14 really hard-hit balls tonight,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said. “I feel like we’re kind of on the verge. We only struck out four times and we put a lot of hard balls in play; a lot of line drives, lineouts, deep fly balls. It’s just a matter of time before those start falling and we put some crooked numbers on the board.”

Lewis Thorpe (0-1) surrendered three runs on five hits in five innings in his return to Minnesota. Thorpe was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A St. Paul for his third stint with the Twins this season as manager Rocco Baldelli made the decision to push his rotation back a day.

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Mitch Garver homered for Minnesota’s lone run.

“We didn’t create enough when we needed to,” Baldelli said. “We got some guys on. We had a few good at-bats and on a night like this when we have a right-handed hitting lineup out there and we’ve got a chance to face a bunch of lefties, we expect more from ourselves in a lot of these at-bats.”

Yang won the regular-season MVP and Korean Series MVP in 2017, leading the Kia Tigers to the KBO championship. He was a two-time ERA leader in the league and twice won the Choi Dong-won award, the Korean equivalent to the Cy Young award.

The Gwangju, South Korea native signed a non-roster contract with Texas in February.

The left-hander kept the Twins off balance with a high-80s fastball, slider and fading changeup. He became just the second pitcher in Rangers’ history with as many as eight strikeouts in a stint of 3 1/3 innings or fewer.

“Anytime you’re facing a guy you’re not familiar with, you’ve got to make an adjustment on it,” Baldelli said. “A guy with a little sneakiness to his fastball and a good changeup as well.”

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

CBSDFW.com Staff