The Angels’ pitching staff has helped the team withstand more than a month without Mike Trout. If the club’s to remain in wild-card contention, that must continue for at least one more week, while Trout finishes his rehabilitation from a torn thumb ligament.
On Monday at Target Field, it did not. Three of the four Angels pitchers to appear struggled, and the Angels lost, 9-5, to Minnesota.
Starter Alex Meyer’s signature wildness was on display early, though he at first managed to evade ill effects. In the first inning, he hit a man and walked another, but spun a perfectly placed slider to strike out Kennys Vargas and end it.
After a one-out double and walk in the second, Meyer was unable to work out of trouble. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons nearly saved him with a diving play up the middle, but Meyer balked in a run on a pickoff attempt to first base. With his next pitch, he left a 2-and-2 fastball over the middle to Joe Mauer, and the longtime Twin clubbed a two-run shot into the visiting bullpen. The Twins had three runs.
They made it four in the third, when Miguel Sano singled and Max Kepler doubled. Meyer faced Jason Castro with two out and two men in scoring position, when a single would have made the Twins’ lead six, but Castro checked his swing on a high fastball and went around, according to third-base umpire Stu Scheurwater.
The Angels halved the deficit in the fourth. Albert Pujols led it off with a single to right and Escobar doubled him to third. Up next, Simmons passed on the first pitch, a changeup outside. He took umbrage at Laz Diaz’s ruling it was a strike. Simmons took two more balls, then swung at a changeup in the same spot and stroked a single up the middle. After two strikeouts and a flyout, Mejia was out of the inning.
Meyer walked another man in the fourth, surrendered a leadoff homer in the fifth, and exited after that inning. More often than not, his walks — more than six per nine innings this season — have proved an impediment to success. That was again the case Monday.
Reliever Yusmeiro Petit was no more successful, as he permitted three singles, a double, and two runs in the sixth.
In the seventh, struggling first baseman Luis Valbuena slammed a first-pitch fastball to center field for a home run. MLB’s Statcast system tracked his solo shot at 427 feet. The Twins estimated it travelled 459 feet, which would be the 11th-longest homer in Target Field’s eight-year history.
The Angels (43-44) added two runs on Martin Maldonado’s home run to left, which followed a Simmons single, the shortstop’s third of the night. But the Twins made their lead four runs again in the bottom of the eighth. They pounded David Hernandez for two runs on three singles, a walk, and a wild pitch.