Kansas City Royals left-hander Mike Minor defeated his former Texas Rangers teammates in his first start of the season in April, but his performance contained some shaky elements.
Minor, 33, will look for a much sharper outing when the Royals oppose the Rangers on Friday night in the opener of a three-game set in Arlington, Texas.
Minor (6-4, 4.48 ERA) picked up the victory in the 11-4 triumph in Kansas City on April 3, but it was the Royals’ offense that bailed him out. He gave up four runs in the first three innings before the Royals scored three runs in the fifth and seven in the sixth while overcoming the early 4-0 deficit.
He struck out six and walked two in six innings, allowing four hits. Minor served up a two-run homer to Joey Gallo.
Minor hopes for a better showing to help the Royals emerge from a slump in which they have dropped 14 of their past 18 games.
Minor went 26-23 with a 4.00 ERA in two-plus seasons with Texas from 2018-20 and was an All-Star in 2019 for the only time in his career. He set career highs for victories (14), strikeouts (200) and innings pitched (208 1/3) that season.
Minor was traded to the Oakland Athletics during the shortened 2020 season and became a free agent after the season. He eventually signed a two-year, $18 million deal with the Royals that includes a $13 million club option for 2023.
Minor is 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in five career appearances (two starts) against the Rangers.
Texas, which has lost 21 of its past 26 games, aims to make it an unhappy return for Minor.
However, the Rangers are just 2-5 during a 10-game homestand, including a 5-1 setback against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday to complete a four-game series split.
Texas was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position during the loss, with the lone run scoring on Nick Solak’s infield out in the second inning. The Rangers left eight men on base.
“We were getting caught in between, a lot of weak contact,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said of the team’s offensive troubles.
The Rangers not only own the third-worst record (27-48) in the majors, but they haven’t even won a series since May 21-23 against the Houston Astros.
Dane Dunning (2-6, 4.71 ERA) will be on the mound for Texas on Friday night.
The 26-year-old right-hander is winless in seven starts since defeating the Seattle Mariners on May 9. He is 0-4 with a 5.68 ERA during the stretch.
Dunning lasted just four innings in each of his past two starts while losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers (four runs allowed on June 13) and Minnesota Twins (four runs, three earned on Sunday).
Dunning has a 2.79 ERA in two career starts (both no-decisions in 2020) against Kansas City. Hunter Dozier and Jose Soler are each 0-for-5 against him.
Soler, who is batting just .182 this season, is 2-for-19 (.105) with eight strikeouts over his past seven games. Dozier is hitting .156.
The Royals had just six hits Thursday during an 8-1 road loss to the New York Yankees. Kansas City left nine runners on base and was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“Not that we want it to happen, but it’s just been kind of defining of our club offensively,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said of the clutch-hitting issues. “When we let those slip away, it seems to have a carryover.”
Kansas City outscored Texas 28-21 while taking two of three during the season-opening series.
–Field Level Media