I hereby call it a successful first career big league start for Korean rookie Hyeon-Jong Yang as the 33-year-old KBO veteran allowed one run in 3 1⁄3 innings. Yang was going to be on a short leash after taking the rotation spot for injured Kohei Arihara regardless but he was able to garner eight (six swinging!) strikeouts in his 66 pitches.
Yang allowed four hits and one walk before giving way at exactly the right moment for reliever John King as Texas seemed to finally figure out how a tandem is supposed to work with King getting the Rangers through the next 2 2⁄3 innings before a late-innings bullpen trio of Brett Martin, Joely Rodriguez, and Ian Kennedy tossed the final three frames without a hiccup.
As for the bats, they didn’t need to a wacky ninth-inning rally tonight so there wasn’t an explosion of late-inning runs but they were able to scrape together what they needed after Minnesota took an early 1-0 lead. And I do mean scrape.
The first run came via a Joey Gallo force out with a runner scoring from third. The second run came via Nick Solak scampering home on a wild pitch. And, the final run came via an Andy Ibanez sacrifice fly.
The Rangers had seven hits tonight with none going for extra bases and Nate Lowe being the only guy to enjoy a multi-hit game. However, with the pitching coming together to get the job done, it was enough and the Rangers have secured at least a tie in this series before tomorrow’s finale.
Player of the Game: I’m a sucker for successful middle relief and King has been kind of flying under the radar so far this season. The left-hander came into tonight with a pristine 1.35 ERA in 13 1⁄3 innings and those numbers only got more sparkling as he tossed those 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings for the Rangers tonight with three strikeouts.
The 2⁄3 part proved most important as King entered in a bases loaded, one-out situation but stranded the runners in support of starter Yang and was eventually named the winner for his effort on the evening.
Up Next: The Rangers and Twins will conclude this series win a matinee affair tomorrow afternoon. RHP Jordan Lyles will make the start for Texas against RHP Michael Pineda for Minnesota. Thursday’s finale first pitch is scheduled for 12:10 pm CT.