via Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON — The case for Mike Minor as a starting pitcher is all but over. He made his most convincing argument on Wednesday night, when he took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Padres.
Minor retired 19 straight batters before Eric Hosmer singled, and the left-hander gave the Rangers seven scoreless innings in a 5-2 victory at Globe Life Park. The victory was Texas’ ninth in its last 11 games, and the Rangers have won four straight series.
Hosmer was the Padres’ only baserunner against Minor, who struck out five and is now 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP in his last four starts.
“It was pretty special,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “There were a lot of things going on inside that game. He had some great defense behind him, he had some balls that were hit at guys and then he had some great stuff. The mix of pitches with the fastball and the breaking ball and the changeup were really swing and miss.”
Minor admitted he was thinking about the perfect-game bid as the game progressed. This is the second time a Rangers starter has taken one into the seventh inning this season, with the other being Bartolo Colon on April 15 at Houston. Minor was working well with catcher Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who made his third Major League start behind the plate.
“Each inning kind of built up a little bit more, but [I was] just trying to make pitches, still a close ballgame,” Minor said. “We just mixed it pretty well. Izzy back there did a great job, first time catching me. I didn’t really know what to expect, but he did really well back there, and then the defense behind me helped me out a lot.”
Texas signed Minor to a three-year contract in the offseason. Many clubs pursued him, but one of the main reasons why he chose the Rangers is because they promised him a chance to start.
Minor was a starter with the Braves in 2010-14 before missing all of 2015-16 because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He made a successful comeback as a reliever last season with the Royals, but Texas saw more in him than that. He is starting to prove them right after a slow start to the season.
“I feel better, yeah,” Minor said. “I talked about it a little bit, but the mechanics and stuff like that, I feel a little bit more consistent with my delivery, repeating things. It’s more about what I think. I think I can do it. I’m starting to prove that I feel like now. Early on, I still had the confidence. I just knew that I was a little bit off with my mechanics and everything, but I knew I had the stuff to get through a lineup three times, four times, whatever it is, and to go deep in ballgames.”
His next goal may be to convince Banister and the Rangers that he no longer needs to be coddled after a long layoff from starting. He wasn’t happy about being pulled after seven innings and 85 pitches.
“Yeah, because I still put zeros on the board,” Minor said. “I don’t have a complete-game shutout in my career, so I still had some goals. Obviously, get the win [is great], but with the pitch count being low, I feel like I still could have went out there and possibly finished the game.”
The Rangers’ attitude with Minor almost cost them on Wednesday, when the Padres scored two in the eighth.
“When we took him out, it was a great question by him and deserved: He said, ‘Why?'” Banister said. “Well, still a big-picture perspective for us. We were at 85 pitches and he grinded hard. I told him if there had been [no hits] on the board, it would have been yours all the way. I was committed to it … it looked pretty special.”