Twins make life rough on Hamels again

Twins make life rough on Hamels again

ARLINGTON -- When Cole Hamels faced the Twins for the first time on Sunday, he entered with a sparkling 9-1 record and a 2.60 ERA, and had given up a combined four runs over his previous five outings.

But the Twins roughed him up for five runs in four innings in a 5-4 win, and he was tasked with facing Minnesota for a second straight start on Friday night. The Twins again beat up on Hamels, tagging him for five runs in 4 1/3 innings, while he issued a season-high six walks, but the Rangers won, 6-5, at Globe Life Park.

Hamels, who threw 109 pitches and saw his ERA rise to 3.21, credited the Twins for having a solid game plan against him, as they laid off his changeups out of the zone and did damage against the ones he left up. Miguel Sano provided the big blast on a first-pitch changeup in the fifth inning for a three-run homer that gave the Twins a brief one-run lead.

Sano's three-run homer

"We made Hamels work," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I don't think he'll say he's been as sharp as he's been the last couple starts. When you get a guy with a pitch count that high through five, we did a nice job."

Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson struggled with his fastball command, however, and allowed four runs in five innings to snap Minnesota's season-long streak of seven straight outings of at least six innings pitched. It came back to bite the Twins, as reliever Ryan Pressly came in for the sixth and gave up two runs keyed by a double from Nomar Mazara and a triple from Elvis Andrus.

"It's always tough when you lose a close game," Gibson said. "We got five runs against one of the best starters in the AL. I don't know if there's a team that's got him twice the way we have this year. It's tough."

Molitor lamented his team's decision-making late in the game for the loss, as Eddie Rosario led off the sixth with a single, but the potential rally was squashed when Eduardo Nunez tried to bunt with two strikes and ended up popping up to the pitcher. Rosario then tried to steal but was thrown out with the Rangers executing a pitch-out.

It was more of the same in the seventh, when Kennys Vargas reached on a broken-bat double to open the inning, only to get thrown out trying to advance to third on a hard-hit grounder to shortstop. Molitor was frustrated by his team's inability to come through late, especially after the way they fared against Hamels.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.