So improbably successful this season, the Angels’ pitching appears to be on the verge of fading. For the second consecutive day in Minnesota, a first-half surprise turned in a dud of an outing.
Tuesday, it was right-hander JC Ramirez, who was charged with four runs over five innings of the Angels’ 5-4 loss to Minnesota at Target Field. And the club came just short of supplying enough offense to overcome it.
Facing recently recalled right-hander Kyle Gibson, the Angels produced a run in the second, when Yunel Escobar singled and Luis Valbuena doubled to score him. They nearly scored again when Nick Franklin poked a ball toward left, but Ehire Adrianza, at shortstop, speared it.
The Twins tied the score in the bottom of the inning on an Adrianza sacrifice fly after a single and hit batsman. With a man on and a 3-and-2 count to Byron Buxton, Ramirez hung a curveball, but Buxton took it for a called third strike.
The Twins struck again in the fifth. Buxton singled, stole second and scored on Robbie Grossman’s double down the right-field line. Joe Mauer next singled in Grossman, followed by a hit from Miguel Sano. Pitching coach Charles Nagy visited the mound, and Ramirez induced two groundouts, one a double play, to end the inning. At 97 pitches on a hot afternoon, his day appeared done, but Scioscia left him in for one more batter.
That Twin, Eddie Rosario, doubled to begin the sixth, and scored two batters later on Adrianza’s second sacrifice fly, this one off of reliever Blake Parker. The next batter, Buxton, clubbed a solo shot, the second homer Parker permitted this season. It was only the third time in his last 34 appearances that Parker had been charged with a run.
Buxton starred all afternoon. He began the game by leaping into the center-field fence to rob Cameron Maybin of a likely double.
The Angels put men on in the final innings, including the first two batters of the ninth, but could not string together a sufficient rally.
Half of their day’s runs scored via solo shots. Kole Calhoun notched one in the sixth. In the seventh, Revere worked his second walk of the afternoon. Those two meant he has more walks in July than he had in April, May, or June.
In the eighth, Maybin singled on the infield, then got picked off by left-hander Taylor Rogers. Maybin has 24 successful steals this season and has been caught three times. Oddly, the opposing pitcher was responsible for all three of those. A catcher has not thrown him out this year.
Then, two batters later, Albert Pujols clobbered a fastball from Rogers some 459 feet, his longest home run since June 30, 2009, when he was still a St. Louis Cardinal in the prime of his career. Pujols had not homered this season since June 17.
The Angels then scored on a single, a walk, and an error in the ninth before Martin Maldonado grounded into a game-ending double play.
The Angels (43-45) fell 2 1/2 games back of a wild-card slot. They had not been two games under .500 in 27 days. All season, they have never moved more than four games above or below even.