MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Matt Harrison breezed through eight innings and Ian Kinsler homered to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.
Harrison (2-0) allowed one run on seven hits with four strikeouts and Elvis Andrus had three hits for the Rangers. Manager Ron Washington elected to go with Alexi Ogando to pitch the ninth for the save over Joe Nathan, who spent the previous seven years in Minnesota before signing to be the Rangers closer in the offseason.
Anthony Swarzak (0-2) gave up four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins, who had won two in a row. Danny Valencia had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but that was all they could muster against Harrison.
Harrison threw six shutout innings in his first outing of the season and had little trouble against a Twins offense that has scored more than two runs just twice in the first seven games. He was in a little jam in the fifth when the Twins had runners on the corners and two outs, but the big lefty struck out Joe Mauer to end the inning. He also got Mauer to ground into a double play after Jamey Carroll led off the eighth with a single.
Michael Young added two hits and an RBI for Texas.
The Rangers got to Swarzak in the fourth, stringing together four straight singles and taking advantage of an error by second baseman Luke Hughes to take a 3-1 lead. Swarzak was able to limit the damage, turning a bases-loaded, no-out jam into just one run on a sacrifice fly from David Murphy before getting to the dugout.
Washington’s decision to use Ogando over Nathan on Friday night was a curious one. Nathan is 0-2 with two saves in his first four appearances, including a blown save in his last outing against Seattle on Wednesday.
Before the game, Washington insisted that Nathan, who signed a two-year contract in November so the Rangers could move Neftali Feliz into the starting rotation, was the team’s closer.
With Nathan back in the town where he became a star, it figured to be as good a night as any to show that confidence. But Ogando got the call. He hit Josh Willingham to start the inning, then gave up a single to Ryan Doumit to make things interesting.
But Ogando got Danny Valencia to ground into a fielder’s choice, Chris Parmelee to strike out swinging and Sean Burroughs popped out to end the game.
Texas 000 300 100—4 9 0
Minnesota 010 000 000—1 8 1
M.Harrison, Ogando (9) and Napoli; Swarzak, Burton (8), Maloney (9) and Doumit. W—M.Harrison 2-0. L—Swarzak 0-2. Sv—Ogando (1). HRs—Texas, Kinsler (4).