Major League Baseball

Perez, Lynn face former teams in Twins-Rangers finale

mlb2TWINS (75-48) AT RANGERS (60-53)
3:05 p.m. ET; FSSW, FSNO, MLB.TV

Martin Perez spent seven seasons pitching in Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, but Sunday afternoon will mark the first time the left-hander makes a start for the visiting side as the Minnesota Twins (+1.5) look to complete a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers (-1.5).

Perez (8-5, 4.57 ERA) signed as an undrafted free agent with Texas in 2007 and went 43-49 with a 4.63 ERA with the Rangers, including a 10-6 mark with a 3.62 ERA in 2013 when he finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. But Texas let him leave after a 2018 season in which he went just 2-7 with a 6.22 ERA in 22 appearances, including 15 starts.

Perez signed a one-year contract with Minnesota in January. He already faced his former teammates on July 5 in Minneapolis, when he picked up the win in a 15-6 victory, allowing four runs and seven hits over six innings. But he said Sunday’s homecoming start “will be a special day for me.”

“I was here my first seven years in the big leagues,” Perez told twincities.com. “I have to say thank you to the organization, the Texas Rangers, because they gave me the opportunity to be a professional baseball player and to pitch at the big league level. To be back, it’s good for me and to know that I’m going to pitch in front of my biggest fans (means) a lot to me.”

The pitcher opposing Perez on Sunday, right-hander Lance Lynn (14-8, 3.54), will also be facing a team for which he played last season. Lynn, who will be facing Minnesota for the first time in his career, went 7-8 in 20 starts with the Twins in 2018 before being dealt with cash to the Yankees at the trade deadline for minor league pitcher Luis Rijo and first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin.

Lynn will be trying to cool down a Minnesota lineup that leads the majors with 240 home runs, just 27 off the single-season record of 267 set by the Yankees last season, and comes in off a 12-7 win on Saturday night that saw the Twins roll up 18 hits, including homers by C.J. Cron and Miguel Sano.

Cron became the sixth player on the Twins to hit the 20-homer mark this season, tying the team record set in 1964.

Minnesota took advantage of an error by Texas starter Ariel Jurado on what could have been an inning-ending double play to score six unearned runs in the first inning Saturday that was capped off by Cron’s two-run homer.

“It’s a good feeling to put up the runs early and take advantage of everything that we can, and then continually add on and put more runs on the board,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters. “It’s something that you’re going to need to do to win games going forward. … The ability to not lose focus, the ability to stay locked in and have good at-bats and continue to put runs on the board is what is going to lead to wins.”

Minnesota is 39-22 on the road this season and is looking to finish 5-1 on its current trip. The Twins began the week in Milwaukee on Tuesday, a half-game behind the Cleveland Indians (-1.5) in the AL Central. They enter Sunday’s contest with a 2 1/2-game lead.

Texas, meanwhile, lost its fourth straight series and is 1-10-3 in its last 14 series.

“Overall, we just didn’t play well today,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “We didn’t do anything to win the game today. … Quite honestly, we have to play better.”

–Field Level Media

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