ARLINGTON, Texas — Ronald Guzman watched the popup go high into the afternoon air and drift wide of the first-base foul line. It was in that moment he decided to let the ball drop. A two-run game sure. But once that ball hit the ground, Minor would be just one strike away from 200 strikeouts.

It was the only reason Minor was still in the game at 125 pitches in the ninth inning. To finish off a 200-inning, 200-strikeout season. On the very next pitch, he got Chris Owings looking. A standing ovation occurred. And a surely relieved manager Chris Woodward went to pull his ace.

Jose Leclerc got the final out in Texas’ 7-5 win.

It seemed as though the 7th inning would be the final moment in a long and largely successful season for the veteran southpaw. But, as he was one strikeout short of the 200 milestone, Texas manager Chris Woodward sent him out for the eighth at 117 pitches. Instead of getting the desired K, Minor recorded a 3-pitch inning.

Minor recorded his 200th inning after getting the first out of the game, on his first of nine strikeouts. A double-play in the sixth inning got him to 205 total innings, surpassing a career-high he set in 2013. And his final moment, his 126th pitch, was a triumphant K of Owings, who had homered off him in the seventh to tie the game.

While the story of the day was the Rangers pitcher, it was the Texas bats that avoided a sweep. Danny Santana hit his second grand slam of the season — blasting one off the facing of the second deck in right field.

After Boston hit two home runs to tie the game in the seventh, Willie Calhoun and Rougned Odor went deep in the bottom of the inning to regain the lead.

Minor had struggled mightily in his last two starts — allowing 13 runs, 15 hits and seven walks over 10 innings. In terms of innings, it was of course the most laborious season of Minor’s career.

Before the start, manager Chris Woodward spoke in his office about the importance of him finishing it out, and allowing the longevity to prepare him for next season — when late-season starts might be more meaningful.

Going 8 2/3, Minor showed he wasn’t quite gassed.

Tribune News Service