Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Angels’

Defense hurts Twins in loss to Angels

May 30, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Some games this year, it’s been the Twins offense. In others, the pitching has been to blame. In their series finale with the Angels on Sunday, defense was the problem.

Only two errors went down in the box score, on throws by Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe in the third inning, but defensive miscues seemed to come far too often as the Twins lost to the Angels, 6-5, at Target Field.

Plouffe opened the third inning with a throw that got past Justin Morneau at first base, but it was ruled an infield single for Mark Trumbo. Two batters later, Valencia also threw one past Morneau, which went down as another single. Valencia was credited for the error when the runner advanced to third base.

Capping things off was Plouffe, who sailed a throw past first base with two outs, allowing the run to score from third for the Angels’ third run of the inning.

“I sailed ’em,” Plouffe said of the throws. “That’s all that is.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has been on Plouffe about his defense, and Sunday’s performance was not exactly what he had in mind.

Earlier in the week, Plouffe misplayed a couple balls in the infield by not being aggressive and getting to them quickly enough, allowing the runners to beat his throws. On his poor throws Sunday, Plouffe also seemed to lack some aggression, appearing tentative as he tossed the ball over to first.

“It kind of looked like he didn’t let ’em fly, just kind of lobbed ’em over there,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what we’re talking about. Be aggressive.

“We worked really hard at it yesterday and he did a good job throwing the ball.”

Gardenhire talked before the game about how Plouffe had been unhappy the other day after having to answer questions from a number of reporters about his defensive struggles. It motivated Plouffe to work on his play at shortstop, leading him to put in extra work.

Whatever the problem is, the work Plouffe is putting in, and the focus he’s put on being aggressive have not translated into positive results on the field.

“I’ve got to look at some video, see what I’m doing, and make an adjustment,” Plouffe said. “That’s all I can do. I can’t go back in time and fix anything right now. Just move forward.”

One tough defensive inning behind him was enough to keep Carl Pavano in pursuit of his 100th career win for at least one more start. Pavano battled well against Angels starter Dan Haren, but the three-run third inning was the difference.

Making his sixth attempt at getting that elusive career mark, Pavano remained winless for the month of May. He went eight innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 10 hits. Pavano struck out three batters and did not allow a walk.

While the third inning was tough, Pavano was bothered most by the run he allowed in the fifth, which made it a two-run game when Jeff Mathis scored on an Erick Aybar single.

“The thing that stands out the most for me is allowing [Mathis] to get a walking lead and steal second,” Pavano said. “That run right there really makes it a tight ball game, it changes the order, how the order comes up. I gave him no credit at all and he ends up stealing that bag and scoring on a bloop to center.”

Haren did not appear to have his best stuff against the Twins, giving up three runs on 10 hits and exiting after six innings with just two strikeouts.

But he still picked up the win, as the Angels offense picked him up.

“I didn’t really have any out pitches,” Haren said. “I needed runs today. I didn’t have much.”

A three-hit game for Denard Span highlighted the Twins offensive output. Span scored after doubling in the first, drove in Plouffe with his seventh-inning double, singled home Matt Tolbert to spark a ninth-inning rally and later scored on Justin Morneau’s single to bring the Twins within a run.

The Twins’ ninth-inning rally came up short, as they plated a pair of runs on two singles and two walks. Right fielder Michael Cuddyer drove a ball deep to center field, but Peter Bourjos was right there to make the out to end the game.

While they came up short and dropped to 17-34 overall with a 6-15 home record, the Twins were encouraged by the late rally after a tough game.

“We kept fighting,” Cuddyer said. “We never gave up, and we haven’t given up yet. We’ve got to keep playing hard.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Twins can’t halt Angels’ big 8th in loss

May 27, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Typically, a five-run lead after seven innings makes it a pretty safe bet to expect a win. With the Twins bullpen, that has not exactly been the case.

After right-hander Scott Baker delivered a strong performance with seven scoreless innings Friday night, he handed the ball over to Alex Burnett. Along with the rest of the bullpen, Burnett allowed the Angels to put up five runs in the eighth and plate another in the ninth for the 6-5 victory at Target Field.

After tossing 106 pitches through seven innings, it seemed like a no-brainer to take Baker out of the game and bring in the bullpen for two innings. In hindsight, it becomes easy to wonder if he could have been more effective than the bullpen in the eighth.

“Why push it at that point in the game?” Baker said. “You play the game like you’re going to win the game. You’ve got pitchers out there that can get some outs and I think we’re going to continue to believe that if you have a five-run lead, that there’s guys out there that can get some outs and we win the ball game.”

It all started with a grounder to first, which became an infield single as Burnett was slow in covering the base. He then walked a batter before leaving the game.

Lefty Dusty Hughes entered the game, and on the first pitch he threw to Erick Aybar, surrendered a three-run home run to kick start the rally.

“Aybar’s three-run jack kind of lifted us up, got us going,” former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. “We were making jokes, laughing in the dugout. Scott Baker was beating us with a fastball. He had late life on his fastball. After seven shutout innings, you’ve got to get somebody to give you a spark. That’s what Aybar did.”

Hughes allowed another runner to reach base on an error before the end of his night. Right-hander Jim Hoey, in his first game back with the big league club, relieved Hughes and promptly gave up a double to Hunter.

That double was followed by a single and a sacrifice fly, tying the ballgame at five runs apiece.

Through 49 games this season, the Twins bullpen has allowed 49 runs in the eighth inning. After the game, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was asked if he felt “skittish” about bringing a reliever in to pitch with the way they’ve performed through nearly two months.

“That’s who we had, those guys have to get it done,” Gardenhire answered. “That’s who we have, that’s who we are, that’s who has to pitch. Skittish, I don’t know. Nervous, absolutely, because we’re not getting the job done.”

Gardenhire noted after the game that Joe Nathan and Anthony Swarzak were unavailable to pitch, and closer Matt Capps was not going to come in until the ninth if he did pitch.

Hoey was the only reliever to record an out, but he surrendered the lead and the game in the ninth. Peter Bourjos led off the inning with a triple to left center, and scored one batter later on a Maicer Izturis single to right.

Burnett, Hughes, and Hoey combined to record only three outs, while giving up six runs on seven hits and one walk. All of this ruined Baker’s best start since May 6.

Baker tossed seven shutout innings to put himself in line for the win, giving up six hits while striking out six batters without a walk. Only twice, in the first and seventh innings, did Baker allow more than one Angels hitter to reach base in an inning.

It was first time since that same May 6 start in Boston that Baker went at least seven innings.

“He gave us everything we needed to win a ball game,” Gardenhire said. “He was in the zone, used his breaking ball, moved the ball in and out, had a decent changeup, and after the first couple innings, he settled in and just cruised.”

Also negated by the bullpen’s performance was a strong game by the top of the order, especially Alexi Casilla. It started with Denard Span’s walk to lead off the game, and Casilla followed with a double to put the Twins up 1-0 early.

Casilla would have had a triple on the play, had he not returned to first after missing the base. He did triple in the third, and was driven in by Jason Kubel. Casilla added another double in the seventh.

After consecutive 2-for-3 games against the Mariners, Casilla went 3-for-4 on the night, with all three hits going for extra bases. He has now gone 7-for-10 over his last three games with three doubles, a triple, a stolen base and four runs scored.

“He’s been swinging good, he’s been playing aggressive,” Gardenhire said. “That’s what we have to have from him, that’s what we would love to see, just exactly what he’s done the last few ball games.”

Michael Cuddyer also became the 14th player in Twins history to record 1,000 hits with the club, knocking a two-out single in the ninth inning.

It was a bittersweet moment for Cuddyer, though, who said afterward he would have traded the 1,000th hit for a win.

“It’s tough. It seems like something has happened every game now,” Cuddyer said. “Whether it’s [blowing a lead] or not hitting. It’s almost like we’re snakebit. We have to figure out how to win a game.”

As one of the leaders in the clubhouse, Cuddyer has been asked many times about all the Twins losses, but he has no better solution than anyone else.

“It’s the million-dollar question,” he said. “I wish we knew and we could put a finger on it because we’d definitely do it. It’s not fun for us either. I know everybody’s frustrated — fans are frustrated — but we’re as frustrated as anybody. It’s tough.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Extra Innings 4/14

April 14, 2010 Comments off

Extra Innings: Too early to fret… for most

By Jordan Schelling     The Badger Herald