Bullpen shines as Angels hold off Twins
By Joe Haakenson
The Sports Xchange
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Little did the Los Angeles Angels know after a such a productive first inning that the path to victory depended on a spotless performance from their bullpen.
Such was the case Tuesday as the Angels topped the Minnesota Twins 8-6 at Angel Stadium.
Two-run singles by left fielder Josh Hamilton and second baseman Howie Kendrick in a five-run first inning got Los Angeles started, but the Angels needed a two-run home run by center fielder Mike Trout in the second inning to restore the lead before the bullpen finished the job.
The Angels recorded their fourth win in a row and ended the Twins' winning streak at four.
Los Angeles did most of its damage in the first two innings, failing to score again until pushing across a run in the eighth inning. It was enough even though Angels starter C.J. Wilson (8-6) was far from his best.
Staked to a 5-0 lead after one inning, Wilson gave up five runs in the second inning and another run in the fifth before calling it a night. He allowed six runs on nine hits in five innings but still was credited with the win.
"It was an interesting approach that (the Twins) had today," Wilson said. "They took a lot of first pitches, like take a first pitch right down the middle. But with two strikes, they would fight pitches off.
"It was a Twilight Zone thing, hits with two strikes, hits on weird counts. ... Typically if I give up a big inning, it's because I walk a guy, plunk a guy or throw a ball away. But after the two home runs, it was paper cuts."
Those two home runs came from left fielder Josh Willingham and designated hitter Kendrys Morales, but the big home run of the night came from Trout, who snapped a 5-5 tie and gave the Angels the lead for good with his homer to right-center field off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the second.
"That's what Mike can do," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "When you have that kind of approach at the plate and drive the ball the other way, you're going to do special things. It was only the second inning, but it was a big hit to regain the lead after those guys put up five in the second."
Gibson, who lasted just two innings, entered the game with a streak of 22 consecutive scoreless innings. However, Gibson began the first inning by walking the first two hitters he faced, and he wound up permitting seven runs on four hits.
"He just kind of got overwhelmed early," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He misfired, put men on base and couldn't make a pitch after that. He didn't have command of too much. We were hoping to run him back out there and see if he could find it a little bit and give us a couple innings, but that didn't work out either. It was just a rough night for him."
Wilson, though, nearly gave it back. He gave up a sixth run on a Morales sacrifice fly in the fifth and handed the ball over to the Angels' relievers, asking them to hold a 7-6 lead.
And they did. Mike Morin (sixth inning), Kevin Jepsen (seventh), Ernesto Frieri (eighth) and Joe Smith (ninth, sixth save) each pitched a scoreless frame.
Jepsen encountered the most danger, giving up a leadoff double to shortstop Danny Santana in the seventh, followed by a walk to second baseman Brian Dozier. However, Jepsen got a big double-play ball when first baseman Joe Mauer's sharp grounder was scooped up by Kendrick, who stepped on second and made an off-balance throw to first.
"Howie made a terrific play," Scioscia said. "That was not an easy play, and he made it look easy."
The Twins also received good work out of the bullpen, particularly from Samuel Deduno, who relieved Gibson and threw four scoreless innings, allowing just one hit.
The Angels added an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Kole Calhoun.
Dozier led the Twins with three hits.
NOTES: Angels hitting coach Don Baylor was cleared by doctors to suit up and join the club on the bench for the first time this season. Baylor fractured his right femur while catching the ceremonial first pitch from Vladimir Guerrero on Opening Night. ... Twins RF Oswaldo Arcia, mired in an 0-for-31 skid, did not play. During his slump, he has reached base three times — two walks and one hit-by-pitch. Arcia's last hit came June 11 vs. Toronto. Chris Parmelee started in Arcia's place and went 1-for-3 with three strikeouts. ... Angels manager Mike Scioscia needs six wins to tie Whitey Herzog for 34th place on the all-time list with 1,281 managerial victories.