MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The Minnesota Twins chose Matt Fox to start Friday’s game not because of his dazzling stuff or eye-popping statistics. He was their only option.
Turns out, he was the perfect choice.Denard Span delivered the go-ahead single in the seventh inning, emergency starter Fox pitched 5 2-3 innings in his major league debut, and the depleted Minnesota Twins beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 on Friday night.
Fox allowed two runs and four hits, giving the Twins’ staff a major boost after scheduled starter Nick Blackburn was forced to pitch in Thursday’s 13-inning loss to Detroit.
Fox said he got the call about his promotion around 2:30 a.m. and estimates he only got about 45 minutes of sleep.
“From the time I got the call last night until I got here, everything went really fast,” Fox said. “I was just speechless and didn’t know what to say to people. I was so excited.”
Alex Burnett (2-2), who arrived with Fox from Triple-A earlier Friday, allowed a run in 1 1-3 innings. Matt Capps recorded five outs for his eighth save with the Twins and 34th overall.
With one out and runners on first and third in the eighth, Capps struck out Nelson Cruz and got Ian Kinsler to ground out.
Capps got a boost when right fielder Jason Repko threw out Alex Cora trying to advance from first to third on a single with one out in the ninth.
Cora said he decided to try and reach third as soon as he saw the ball roll through the infield.
“I like the aggressiveness, but sometimes you just have to be certain,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “The situation will always dictate how aggressive you can be.”
Josh Hamilton singled with one out in the eighth, and then left the game with lower back stiffness. Hamilton had missed the Rangers last two games with a sore knee. He is day-to-day.
The Rangers went ahead in the seventh when Kinsler scored on Julio Borbon’s squeeze bunt. Rangers starter Derek Holland (2-3) was unable to hold the lead.
J.J. Hardy tied it with an RBI single off reliever Alexi Ogando. Span put the Twins ahead when his single off Matt Harrison scored Repko.
“We got ‘em over and got ‘em in. That’s the way you play the game,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We never gave into them and heck of a ballgame for us.”
The Twins were scrambling to find enough arms just to get through the game against a solid Texas lineup. Besides Blackburn, starter Brian Duensing was also used on Thursday. Relievers Jeff Manship, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier have been used extensively the past few days and were not available.
Fox’s debut was more impressive considering it came on a night when 34 of the Twins all-time greats were in attendance.
The game started a half hour later than usual so the Twins could honor the 50 greatest players in team history during a pregame ceremony. Twins legends such as Harmon Killebrew, Kent Hrbek and Tony Oliva were introduced and gathered around home plate as video tributes played on the big screen and fans cheered.
“I was definitely surprised, but it was a good surprise,” he said.
The sold out crowd at chilly Target Field gave Fox a standing ovation after Gardenhire removed him with two outs in the sixth.
“I just told him I hope you took it all in,” Gardenhire said. “First start, you’re out here and you pitched your tail off. I hope you took it all in and understand that was a big league performance. I just wanted him to know that. That was pretty good.”
The Rangers knew next to nothing about Fox, and it showed.
“When a guy does something like that, it’s just location,” Kinsler said. “We just weren’t able to put anything together against him.”
Twins rookie Danny Valencia had two hits, but left the game in the seventh with a tight hamstring.
Notes: Cliff Lee returned to the Rangers after flying to Dallas on Wednesday to receive a cortisone shot in his aching back. Lee will throw a bullpen session on Saturday, after which the team will determine if he will make his next scheduled start on Tuesday. … Twins starter Scott Baker received a cortisone shot after leaving Thursday’s start after two innings. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Baker will likely miss his next two starts. … An MRI and X-ray on Twins’ OF Jason Kubel’s left wrist revealed no significant damage. Kubel has missed the last three games, but hopes to return to the lineup on Sunday.