By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Baseball Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Eddie Rosario and the Minnesota Twins keep hitting home runs, and maintaining the slimmest possible lead in the AL Central.
Rosario matched his career high with his 27th homer, and like Miguel Sanó went deep for the second game in a row, as the Twins beat the Texas Rangers 13-6 on Thursday night to stay a half-game ahead of Cleveland.
“I feel good. I feel stronger than last year, healthier,” Rosario said through a translator. “Last year when I was putting up good numbers as well, I went down. I’m taking care of me and taking care of my body, my health, so that doesn’t happen this year.”
Asked how many homers he thinks he can hit this season, Rosario responded, “As much as I can.”
Probably the same for all of the Twins, whose 236 homers are already a club record. That is 31 short of the MLB record set by the New York Yankees last year, with 41 games left in the regular season.
Rookie second baseman Luis Arraez also homered, his two-run shot in the second putting the Twins (73-48) ahead to stay against Pedro Payano (1-2). They led 11-0 halfway through the game.
“The guys are swinging the bats well. We started pretty good first couple of innings and just carried it out,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “There were good swings throughout the game, all the way up and down the lineup.”
After C.J. Cron reached on a one-out error on the second, Arraez homered to right for a 2-0 lead in a five-run inning. Jake Cave had an RBI double before a throwing error by shortstop Elvis Andrus allowed two runs to score.
Marwin Gonzalez had a pair of RBI singles among his four hits. It was 11-0 after Sanó hit his 22nd homer with two outs in the fifth.
The Rangers, at the time, still had only one hit off Michael Pineda (8-5) in his return from the injured list after missing two weeks because of a right triceps strain.
“I’m so excited to get back to pitching,” Pineda said. “I have good location and they got a lot of swing and miss. When you see that, that’s why I used a lot of fastballs.”
Pineda struck out six with one walk while allowing three runs and six hits over five innings in his first start since Aug. 1.
Drew Smeltzer threw the final four innings for his first career save, and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game.
Payano was optioned to Triple-A Nashville after he allowed eight runs (five earned) in 3 1/3 innings.
Willie Calhoun led off the Rangers fifth with his 11th homer, and Andrus had an RBI single to make it 11-3.
Rosario then homered to start the Minnesota’s sixth.
After the Rangers got another leadoff homer in the sixth on Hunter Pence’s 18th, they had four more hits — two for extra bases — in the inning and got only one more run.
Calhoun was out trying to score on a double by Rougned Odor, who was then thrown out when he took off home on a groundball to third. The inning ended when Jose Trevino rounded third base and couldn’t get back in time after a RBI double by Delino DeShields.
“There was obviously a few mistakes on the bases. It’s part of the game. We run the bases very aggressively,” manager Chris Woodward said. “A few baserunning mistakes cost us a little bit, but in the end it doesn’t cost us the game.”
The Rangers (60-61) have lost seven of nine games. … Eight players scored runs for Minnesota, whose 13 runs were its most since 15 against the Rangers on July 5.
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz (left wrist) is expected to hit on the field at some point this weekend. Cruz was put on the 10-day injured list last Friday, a day after he was injured on a swing. “There’s no reason to really rush anything,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Says he’s feeling good and he’s ready to go.” Cruz is hitting .294 with 32 homers and 76 RBIs in 87 games. … C Willians Astrudillo (strained left oblique) started a rehab assignment with Double-A Pensacola.
Rangers lefty Mike Minor (11-6, 2.90 ERA) has pitched 16 consecutive scoreless innings, and has won his last three starts since the trade deadline passed with him still in the Texas rotation. Minor is coming off consecutive 1-0 wins on the road. Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi (13-5, 3.44) threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his last start, and has allowed one or no earned runs in 13 starts.
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