The Minnesota Twins had an opportunity to get a second consecutive win at Target Field on Sunday afternoon, but managed to keep shooting themselves in the foot just enough to drop another game, as the Los Angeles Angels left Minnesota with a 6-5 victory on Sunday afternoon.
Minnesota got on the board first in this one, courtesy of Jason Kubel's single in the bottom of the first that scored Denard Span, staking Carl Pavano to an early 1-0 lead. However, the Angels came back in the top of the third with three runs, helped significantly by the defensive struggles of shortstop Trevor Plouffe. Mark Trumbo started the third with a ground ball to Plouffe, whose throw to first sailed over Justin Morneau's head, allowing Trumbo to reach safely. After Alexi Amarista grounded into a fielder's choice, Angels' catcher Jeff Mathis bunted a ball towards third base, and Danny Valencia threw errantly as well, allowing Amarista to advance to third.
Pavano then retired Peter Bourjos on a flyout, but Erick Abyar tripled to right field, scoring both Amarista and Mathis. Bobby Abreu then hit a ground ball to Plouffe, who threw errantly once again and pulled Morneau off of the bag, allowing Abreu to score and giving the Angels a 3-1 lead.
The Twins got one back in the bottom of the third after Alexi Casilla singled and stole second, scoring on Morneau's single with two outs. The Angels scored another run in the top of the fifth, after Mathis singled and stole second, coming home to score on a single by Aybar and extending the Los Angeles lead to 4-2.
Minnesota had a chance for a big inning in the bottom of the seventh, when Plouffe led things off with a walk and Denard Span doubled to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Angels' starter Dan Haren was then lifted for reliever Scott Downs, and Casilla got an RBI groundout to score Plouffe and narrow the gap to 4-3. Jason Kubel then reached on an infield single to load the bases with one out, but Downs got Morneau to ground into a double play to end the threat and preserve the Angels' one-run advantage.
The Angels then added another run in the top of the eighth when Aybar scored on Abreu's RBI double off of Carl Pavano. They tacked on one more in the top of the ninth when Trumbo blasted a solo home run to left field off of Jim "Fahrenheit 451" Hoey to extend the lead to 6-3 going into the bottom of the ninth.
Los Angeles brought closer Jordan Walden in for the bottom of the ninth, and pinch-hitter Matt Tolbert started the inning by drawing a walk. After a fly out by Plouffe, Tolbert stole second base, and scored when Span singled to center field, making the score 6-4. Casilla then drew a walk, putting runners on first and second, but Jason Kubel struck out for the second out of the inning. Justin Morneau then singled to center to score Span and allow Casilla to move up to third, cutting the gap to 6-5 with two outs. However, it was not to be for the Twins on this day, as Walden got Michael Cuddyer to fly out to center field to end the game and preserve the Los Angeles victory.
The loss drops the Twins to 17-34 on the year, and once again gives them the worst record in Major League Baseball. It also means that the Twins have still yet to win a single series of more than three games in length this season, and they dropped two out of three to the Angels in this series.
Pavano took the loss for the Twins after allowing five runs and ten hits in eight innings of work. His record is now 2-5, and his ERA currently sits at 5.19. Haren got the win for the Angels, scattering ten hits and three runs over six innings, raising his record to 5-3 on the season. Walden notched his twelfth save of the year for Los Angeles.
The Twins take to the road again starting Monday, as they have an early game with the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park scheduled for 12:05 PM Central time. The pitching match-up currently has Nick Blackburn (4-4, 3.20 ERA) taking the mound for the Twins, and the Tigers countering with right-hander Brad Penny (4-4, 4.45 ERA).