Seventh inning sinks Twins in 4-2 loss to Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. — If there’s one thing for the Twins to take solace in, it’s this: They had a chance to win every single game on their six-game road trip to Southern California.
But being competitive in every single game — the Twins had a lead at one point in all of the games on the trip, and in the late innings in most of them — only gets them so far. The Twins flew away from a week in California with only two wins to speak of after dropping the series finale in Anaheim, 4-2, to the Angels on Sunday.
“Overall we can’t be pleased with the trip that we just had,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “ … When you lose a handful of close ball games that you either had the lead in or you had clear opportunities — several clear opportunities — and don’t capitalize, it’s (a) hard one to swallow.”
The latest loss followed somewhat of a similar pattern to some of the trip’s other losses. A pitcher’s duel — Shohei Ohtani and Pablo López’s battle lived up to the billing — for the first six innings made way for a game in which the Twins (25-22) were unable to do anything with yet another bases-loaded opportunity, and the bullpen was unable to hold the opponent in check.
For a team whose OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is near the top of the league with runners in scoring position, its early-season futility with the bases loaded has become confounding. The Twins finished the trip 0 for 9 with the bases loaded with one walk.
Sunday, they loaded the bases with one out in the seventh inning only to see Ryan Jeffers and Joey Gallo strike out.
“Obviously with the bases loaded, everybody wants to perform and maybe we got a little overly aggressive,” said shortstop Carlos Correa, who doubled in the Twins’ first run of the game. “ … We’ve got to try to maybe have a simpler approach with people on base.”
Whatever adjustments need to be made, they weren’t made on Sunday, and after getting out of a bases-loaded situation unscathed, the Angels (25-23) took advantage of their own opportunity in the bottom of the seventh.
Knotted in a 1-1 tie, López, who for six innings had matched Ohtani, was sent out to begin the seventh. A seven-pitch walk to Matt Thaiss ended what had been one of his better starts of late on a sour note.
“Leadoff walks, for the most part, come back to get you,” López said. “That late in the game with the score tied, 1-1, I know I could have been more aggressive in the zone. I failed to execute better pitches.”
Eight Jorge López pitches later and the Angels had hit a pair of doubles, bringing home two runs. They tacked on a run an inning later, as well, after the Twins had cut the lead to just one with an opposite-field Alex Kirilloff home run.
“Still angry about it,” Jorge López said. “It’s my job to fix that. It was a really good game that Pablo was going through. I couldn’t do the job.”
And just like earlier games on the trip, a few pitches, a few plays loomed large as the Twins dropped their second straight series out west.
“We’re a little pissed about the way we’ve been handling our business. All of us,” Baldelli said. “ … We faced a good Dodgers team on this trip. We faced a good Angels team and … we saw Shohei today. Those are not easy games where you can play just OK and come out on top. You have to play well. You have to swing the bat well at times. You have to pitch well and you’ve got to play complete baseball games. We’re on the verge of playing complete baseball games but we’re not there yet.”
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