With a season-long, eight-game losing streak now behind them after a 6-2 win on Saturday, the Texas Rangers will try to salvage a split of their four-game series against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins on Sunday in Minneapolis.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery (8-10, 3.12 ERA), obtained at the trade deadline from St. Louis, will make his fifth start for Texas and will be opposed by right-hander Bailey Ober (6-6, 3.41), who will make his first career start against the Rangers.
Montgomery is 2-1 with a 1.73 ERA in his four starts with the Rangers. On Monday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, he allowed four hits over eight shutout innings while striking out six but came away with no decision in a game Arizona won in 11 innings, 4-3.
Montgomery is 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA in three career starts against Minnesota.
Texas let out a big exhale before heading into Sunday's finale after ending its losing streak behind the pitching of three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and an epic ninth-inning meltdown by Minnesota's bullpen.
Scherzer allowed two runs on four hits over seven inning while striking out 10, the 113th time in his career that he has struck out at least 10 in a game. He trails only Hall of Fame members Nolan Ryan (215 games) and Randy Johnson (212) in that category.
Mitch Garver and Adolis Garcia both homered and had two hits for the Rangers, who remained in a first-place tie with Seattle in the American League West, a game ahead of Houston.
"I think for everybody (it was a relief)," Texas manager Bruce Bochy told MLB.com after his team's first victory since Aug. 15. "You get in a rut like this and get (out of the slump), it's huge. I think you look (at) how we won the game, too. We've lost a lot of games late. We won it there in the ninth inning against a tough team."
Scherzer was more analytical.
"Look, were a great team," Scherzer said. "I got over here (from the New York Mets at the trade deadline) and we won eight straight. Everything was working. Offense, everybody was doing their job. You kind of ride the high of the roller coaster, and then we go on an eight-game losing streak and you feel like the lowest of the low. You're never as high, never as low as you actually think you are."
Despite the frustrating loss, Minnesota kept a six-game lead over second-place Cleveland in the AL Central. The Twins used closer Jhoan Duran to retire the top of the Texas order in the eighth and turned the game over the Griffin Jax with the score 2-2 in the ninth.
Jax was greeted by back-to-back singles by Garcia and Garver. After striking out Travis Jankowski, Jax hit Ezequiel Duran before issuing back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Robbie Grossman and Leody Taveras. Dylan Floro came in and hit Marcus Semien to force in another run, and Corey Seager added a sacrifice fly.
"That was tough," Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Griff's been excellent for us. Very good lately. Has pitched in some big situations for us lately, as he normally would. I've really liked what I've seen from him. Today wasn't his day."
—Field Level Media