Hamilton, Rangers sweep away Twins
MINNEAPOLIS - Pitching, fielding, baserunning, and timely hits. That all fell into place for the surging Texas Rangers over the weekend.
Just like the fastball Glen Perkins left over the middle for Josh Hamilton.
Hamilton’s two-run homer in the eighth capped a three-run inning for the Rangers and set up Joe Nathan for the save against his former team in a 4-3 victory on Sunday over the Twins, their first series sweep in Minnesota since 1999.
“I’m not trying to do too much. It’s ‘do what the situation asks for,’ ’’ said Hamilton, who leads the American League with 16 hits and is tied at the top with four home runs.
Perkins (0-1) walked Ian Kinsler to start the eighth, and Elvis Andrus followed with a triple to bring the Rangers within one. Then Hamilton hit the first pitch he saw from Perkins an estimated 449 feet into the upper deck above right field.
“He’s locked in. He’s doing everything. He’s using all the fields. He’s not missing mistakes. He’s playing tremendous defense. We certainly needed that big hit he gave us today, and that’s what he’s been doing for us,’’ manager Ron Washington said.
Hamilton is 6 for 12 in his career with two homers and five RBIs against Perkins.
“That’s what they do when you make a mistake, and he did what he should’ve done with that,’’ Perkins said.
The Rangers won their fourth in a row and raised their AL-best record to 8-2. The Twins are an AL-worst 2-7.
Robbie Ross (2-0) struck out three in relief of Neftali Feliz over two scoreless innings for his second win in as many days. Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in four tries with his new team.
“We’ve got an unbelievable team that can hit, get runs whenever it seems like they want to,’’ Ross said. “It makes pitching a lot easier.’’
The Twins stretched their lead to 3-1 after a triple by Denard Span - who is 10 for 18 in his last four games - and a single by Jamey Carroll. Joe Mauer walked, but Ross retired three in a row.
“We thought we had a pretty good opportunity there, but the kid made some pitches and got us out,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
In the eighth, Span started with a single but Carroll popped his bunt attempt up and Mauer grounded into a double play.
Feliz, the converted closer who joined the rotation to replace C.J. Wilson and make room for Nathan this season, has made the transition look relatively smooth. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and got Justin Morneau to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners at first and second in the fourth. The Twins lead the major leagues by grounding into 13 double plays this year.