ANAHEIM -- Twins manager Paul Molitor smirked when he asked if, of the Twins 20 wins this season, was Monday's the best of them all.
``Twenty wins, I probably could go through them all.,'' he said. ``We had a fairly complete game in terms of defense was good for the most part. We got a solid start and the bullpen did its job. It's not a lot of nights we have been able to complement all areas of our game by being efficient.''
That was just part of the reason why the Twins were able to beat the Angels 9-4 on Monday. The other part was that the 27-37 Angels just aren't that good. They have been stung by injuries and slumping players. Their bullpen was so worn out that, on Monday, they called up former Twin minor leaguer A.J. Achter and former overused Tiger Al Alburquerque.
The Twins did play well. Ricky Nolasco fought through six innings to improve to 3-4 and become the first starter to, A, win a game this month and, B, win three games this season. The nine runs were a season high. And it was just the fourth time all season that the Twins did not trail during a game.
But they also took advantage of three official errors and one bonehead play. The Angels have lost seven of their last eight games.
The Twins are 4-0 against the Angels, 16-43 against the rest of baseball.
On Monday they slowly added on to a 4-3 lead after four innings. Robbie Grossman scored as Plouffe grounded into a double play in the fifth to make it 5-3. Byron Buxton hit his first home run of the season in the sixth, a floater down the left field line that snuck into the seats. The Twins led 6-3.
Grossman led off the seventh with a solo home run to center, but the Twins proceeded to plate two more runs as Angels shortstop Gregorio Petit committed two errors and third baseman Yunel Escobar allowed Brian Dozier to reach third on a ground out despite being within tagging range of Escobar. Dozier waited between second and third for Escobar to throw to first, then pulled into third once he did. Dozier eventually scored the third run of the inning.
The Twins have suffered self-inflicted damage many times this season when a mistake led to a crooked number on the scoreboard. They finally benefited from someone else's blunders on Monday.
The game was tied 1-1 in the third inning when Grossman drew a one-out walk and Joe Mauer followed with a routine grounder to second baseman Johnny Giavotella - a potential inning-ending double play grounder.
Giavotella tried to field the ball but slightly flubbed it, then he threw wildly to Petit at short. That allowed Grossman to pull into third while Mauer was safe at first.
Then Angels righthander Jered Weaver, 5-6, left a breaking ball over too much of the plate, and Plouffe crushed it to left for a three -run homer and a 4-1 Twins lead.
``They had a couple of miscues on the defensive side, and we have paid the price for that this year,'' Molitor said. ``A lot of teams have capitalized on our defensive mistakes. And tonight it was nice to see that when we got an opportunity with extra outs we were able to get some hits and keep adding on.''
Nolasco had an interesting outing. He held Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to one hit between them, but he struggled with the bottom of the order. Given the 4-1 lead, Nolasco gave up two runs in the fourth and was sitting on 80 pitches thrown. It didn't seem like he was going to get through six innings. But then he pitched a 1-2-3 fifth.
The Angels had two on and one out in the sixth when Nolasco made his most effective pitch of the night. His sinker was hit into the ground by Petit and became an inning-ending double play.
The 106 pitches thrown were the second most of the season for Nolasco - and enough to get the job done.
``I had a little trouble putting some guys away, so I racked up a little bit of a pitch count, trying to put guys away and I ended up back in hitter’s counts,'' Nolasco said. ``But it felt good. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was able to throw a good sinker there and get that double play in the sixth.’’