Newcomers shine in Twins’ win

Published 12:10 am Monday, September 2, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas — Alex Presley and Josmil Pinto quickly fit in with Minnesota.

Both players enjoyed a memorable debut for the Twins during their series-clinching 4-2 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Sunday.

“I couldn’t envision a better start for myself, to get a win and be able to contribute,” said Presley, who had three hits and an RBI a day after being traded from Pittsburgh for longtime Twins favorite Justin Morneau.

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“I didn’t know what it would be like to come into a new clubhouse,” he added. “A lot of these guys I haven’t played with or against. We bonded quickly in the dugout. I’ll remember just how welcoming everybody’s been.”

Pinto had two hits in his major league debut, including an RBI double before scoring the tiebreaking run in the fifth. He also caught Kevin Correia’s latest victory over the Rangers.

“We talked before the game,” said Pinto, called up Saturday from Triple-A Rochester to fill Morneau’s roster spot. “He told me, ‘I like to pitch my game.’ After a few innings, I understand how he likes to pitch.”

After throwing eight scoreless innings in a home victory over the Rangers in April, Correia (9-10) scattered five hits over seven innings on a steamy day in Texas. He got 14 outs on the ground, including a pair of double plays.

Correia has won all three of his career starts against the Rangers, with an ERA of 1.61.

“He mixed it up well,” said Mitch Moreland, whose 21st homer leading off the third was the only run off Correia. “Used both sides of the plate, kept us off balance, and we didn’t really create a whole lot of opportunities.”

The Twins didn’t let Correia go back out for the eighth because he was cramping in his ribs on a day when the temperature was 99 degrees at first pitch and rose to triple digits.

“I could have gone back out, but the coaches wouldn’t let me,” Correia said. “You can’t say anything if you want to go back out there.”

Manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins were being cautious.

“He mentioned that he had an oblique injury way back and when he gets dehydrated it bothers him,” Gardenhire said. “He threw the ball real well. He moved it in and out.”

In a brief stay at home, the Rangers lost two of three to the Twins while scoring exactly two runs in all three games. Texas plays its next six games on the West Coast, starting Monday with the opener of an important three-game series in Oakland.

Even though the Rangers finished August with an AL-best 20-7 record, they lost their September opener and have only a one-game division lead over the A’s. Oakland wrapped up a three-game sweep against Tampa Bay with a 5-1 victory Sunday.

“We’re not looking for help from anybody. We played these three games against the Minnesota Twins with the intention on winning,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

A.J. Pierzynski also homered for the Rangers, with a pinch-hit shot in the eighth.

Texas starter Travis Blackley (2-2) was gone after giving up three consecutive run-scoring hits with one out in the fifth.

Pinto had an RBI double before Doug Bernier’s ground-rule double, a ball that bounced just fair down the right-field line and then went into the seats. Presley followed with an RBI single that made it 3-1.

Glen Perkins, the second Twins reliever, pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 32nd save in 35 chances. He saved both Minnesota wins in the series.

Darin Mastroianni was thrown out trying to score in the first inning after a deke by second baseman Ian Kinsler when Brian Dozier doubled.

Running toward second, Mastroianni slid into the bag when Kinsler acted as he was turning a double play. But the ball was in left-center field. Mastroianni got up and started running again, but couldn’t beat Kinsler’s relay throw from center fielder Leonys Martin to catcher Geovany Soto, who blocked the plate from the sliding runner.

NOTES: Neftali Feliz pitched 1 2-3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts in his first appearance for the Rangers since sustaining a torn elbow ligament in May 2012 that required Tommy John surgery. … Martin got his 12th outfield assist this season, the most for a Texas player since Ruben Sierra had 15 in 1991. … Texas added seven players to its roster Sunday. The Twins added only Presley on the first day rosters could expand. Their top farm team is still in playoff contention.