Giants, Rangers square off; both eye return to .500

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Left-hander Mike Minor will be searching for his first win of the season when the Texas Rangers visit the San Francisco Giants in the opener of a three-game interleague series Friday night.

Both teams are attempting to get back to .500. The Rangers improved to 2-3 with a 7-4 win over Arizona to close out a season-opening homestand on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Giants fell to 3-4 after losing two of three at home to the San Diego Padres, including a 12-7, 10-inning decision Thursday night.

Minor (0-1, 1.80 ERA), a 14-game winner last season, pitched well enough to deserve a better fate in his season debut, but was the victim of an unearned run in a 3-2 loss to Colorado on Saturday. He limited the Rockies to two runs (one earned) and three hits in five innings.

The 32-year-old has never lost in San Francisco, where he’s compiled a 2-0 lifetime mark in three appearances, including two starts. He’s fashioned a fine 1.88 ERA in those games.

Overall, Minor is 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA against the Giants in seven head-to-heads, six of which have been starts.

One problem the Rangers hope they don’t encounter in the series is what to do late in the game against a Giants team that rallied from big deficits in each of their last two games against the Padres. San Francisco beat San Diego 7-6 with eighth- and ninth-inning rallies on Wednesday before dropping the extra-inning game Thursday.

The Rangers lost closer Jose Leclerc to a strained teres major muscle during the season-opening homestand.

“You can’t just replace guys like that who have that kind of ability,” said Texas general manager Jon Daniels.

Pitching has been the least of the Rangers’ problems early on. They’ve hit a cumulative .181, with just four home runs in five games.

The worst of the slumps belong to Shin-Soo Choo and Danny Santana, who have gone a combined 2-for-30 (.067) with one extra-base hit — a double by Santana.

The Rangers are unlikely to find out which starting pitcher they’ll be facing until they arrive at the ballpark. Such has been the tactic, more often than not, by new Giants manager Gabe Kapler.

The likely candidates are left-hander Drew Smyly (0-0, 2.08) and righty Logan Webb (0-0, 2.25).

The Giants got a decent performance under similar circumstances from right-hander Kevin Gausman on Thursday. He limited the Padres to three runs in 4 1/3 innings, striking out eight.

However, the oft-used Giants bullpen allowed the Padres to build a 6-1 lead in the middle innings before, for the second night in a row, San Francisco came roaring back.

With Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano again playing leading roles, the Giants drew even 6-6 in the eighth inning — just as they did on Wednesday — only this time to fall in extra innings.

The Giants’ offense figures to be even more potent in the Texas series, with Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria both having returned from injuries to make season debuts in Thursday’s loss. They combined to go just 1-for-6, but Longoria drove in a run and Belt walked three times.

“Our excitement about Brandon getting back in the lineup is two-fold,” Kapler explained to the media before the game. “One, it’s nice to have somebody in the middle of our lineup in the four-hole who can walk and do damage. No. 2, it’s nice to have somebody at first base who can play great defense.”

–Field Level Media

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