Jeffers' tiebreaking homer in eigth lifts Twins to win and deals Rangers seventh straight loss
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Pinch-hitter Ryan Jeffers broke a tie with a two-run, two-out homer in a three-run eighth inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat Texas 7-5 on Thursday night and sent the Rangers to a season-high seventh straight loss.
In a matchup of division leaders. Minnesota tied a season high with five homers and overcame a 5-2, fifth-inning deficit. Michael A. Taylor homered twice for Minnesota, and Royce Lewis and Kyle Farmer also went deep.
“We just kept adding runs to the scoreboard slowly, steadily,” Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said.
On a night of eight home runs, Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Leody Tavares hit solo drives for the Rangers. Texas, which has led the AL West since April 9, is just one game ahead of Houston and Seattle.
“Kind of had a good feeling early on in that game that we were going to break this skid and go out and put up about 10 runs and kind of cruise into it, and it didn’t happen," said Travis Jankowski, who had three hits and drove in two runs for the Rangers. "So, on to tomorrow.”
AL Central-leading Minnesota opened a six-game lead over second-place Cleveland.
Minnesota trailed 5-4 when Matt Wallner singled off Josh Sborz (5-6) starting the eighth. Carlos Correa, who had stranded runners on base in each of his first three at-bats, hit a tying double to the base of the center-field wall.
Lewis walked and left-hander Will Smith got Max Kepler to ground into a double play. Jeffers hit for Edouard Julien and drove Smith’s first pitch, an inside slider, 427 feet to the second deck in left-center. It was Jeffers' second home run in 14 career pinch at-bats.
Minnesota also homered five times against the Chicago White Sox on May 13.
Josh Winder (2-0) pitched three hitless innings in relief of Pablo López. Griffin Jax worked around a one-out walk in the ninth, getting Nathaniel Lowe to ground into a game-ending double play for his second save this season.
López had a 19-inning scoreless streak before Semien led off the game with his 20th homer this season.
Farmer homered in the second but the Rangers took a 4-1 lead in the third on Seagar’s 24th and Jankowski's two-run single.
“I saw an offense that did a really nice job against a guy that was on a good roll," Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said. "A good pitcher, we had some great at-bats, put five runs on the board, and their long guy came in and shut us down. On a night like tonight the way the ball was flying, you’re hoping you can tack on, but he did a great job for them and they kept chipping away.”
Correa said he had a good feeling Jeffers would come through, based on an interaction the teammates had earlier in the game. During the seventh inning, Correa went to the batting cage and found Jeffers already preparing, not just for a pinch-hit at-bat, but for that specific at-bat against Smith.
“I walked into the cage, and the machine was like super-high,” Correa said. "And I was like, ‘How come the machine is so high?’ And he said, ‘I’m going to hit Will Smith’s slider, and he’s got the high release.’ And he started hitting sliders in the sixth and seventh innings.
“When he came up to bat, I was like, Will Smith is going to throw him a slider, and he’s been practicing the slider for two innings already. First pitch, home run.”
Jeffers said he was told to prepare for either Smith or fellow lefty Aroldis Chapman.
“I know Chapman. He throws fastballs. I’ve never seen Will Smith before,” Jeffers said. “He has a high release height, so we jacked the machine up high. I was just hitting some sliders. I was hitting them pretty well.”
Rangers: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (forearm soreness) threw on the side. Bochy said the team likely wouldn’t decide until Friday whether Eovaldi would need a rehab assignment before returning to the starting rotation. The 2023 All-Star has made one start since the All-Star break.
Twins: RHP Oliver Ortega (left lumbar strain) was placed on the 15-day injured list. The team recalled RHP Jordan Balazovic from Triple-A St. Paul.
Texas RHP Dane Dunning (9-5, 3.19) will face Minnesota’ RHP Sonny Gray (6-6, 3.15) on Friday night.
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