Angels' Street teaches Vargas lesson in the clutch

 

Huston Street brings plenty of savvy to the mound. Not blessed with overpowering stuff, he nevertheless entered the ninth inning Thursday with 60 saves in his past 63 opportunities. A good test for a couple of Twins youngsters.

Danny Santana reached base against the righthander. Kennys Vargas, however, struck out in a big at-bat as the Angels held on for a 5-4 victory at Target Field.

Santana led off the ninth by taking a strike and then bunting foul. But he blooped the 0-2 pitch to right for a leadoff single. Brian Dozier singled, putting the winning run on first.

Joe Mauer flied out to left as his detractors booed. That brought up Vargas, who entered the game with 31 RBI in his first 32 major league games.

Vargas got ahead in the count 3-1.

“I looked for a fastball because it’s 3-1,” he said

Uh-uh. Street threw three consecutive changeups. Vargas swung and missed the first one, fouled off the second one — which looked like ball four — then missed the third.

Eduardo Escobar flied out to end the game, as the Twins fell to 0-4 this season against the Angels, who moved to a five-game lead in the AL West.

It was a lesson for Vargas, whose fast start to his career had fans at Target Field reacting to every pitch of his final at-bat.

“In a situation like that against a young hitter, less is more,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He was taking a lot off the ball. And a guy like [Vargas], you try to power by that big guy you have a chance to get hurt. He kept taking more and more off and let it go down toward the ground.”

Vargas laid off close pitches during the at-bat, but chased in the end.

“I learn something every day,” Vargas said. “That was experience.”

The Angels, who are 25-19 in one-run games. got a leadoff double by David Freese in the top of the ninth off Glen Perkins. Pinch runner Tony Campana was bunted to third, and he scored on Chris Iannetta’s sacrifice fly.

The Twins were down 4-0 after righthander Kyle Gibson’s rough fourth inning. But the Twins got back-to-back doubles by Santana and Dozier in the fifth, then a tying three-run homer by Eduardo Nunez in the sixth.

Dead arm for Milone

Lefthander Tommy Milone, who continued his run of poor form with the Twins by failing to get out of the fourth inning Tuesday, has been scratched from his scheduled start Sunday against the Angels. Milone, the Twins said, has a tired arm.

“The ball is just not coming out of his hand,” Gardenhire said. “He said he’s had this before. So just back him off, skip a start. He said it has helped him in the past”

Milone is 6-4 with a 4.31 ERA overall, but is 0-1, with a 7.84 ERA in five starts since joining the Twins.

Lefthander Logan Darnell is the favorite to start in place of Milone. Darnell, in two stints with the Twins this season, is 0-1 with a 8.25 ERA in three games (two starts). He threw 68 pitches on Aug. 22 in his last start with Class AAA Rochester, then made two appearances out of the bullpen. Gardenhire said there’s no concern about Darnell’s ability to pitch deep into a game.

This plan only works the Twins don’t need Darnell out of the bullpen before then. Milone could return to the rotation on Sept. 13 at Chicago.

“We’re going to see how the next two games go and see who we have to use out there [in the bullpen],” Gardenhire said. “The candidate is Darnell.”

Hicks in right

With a lefthander on the mound, Gardenhire opted to start Aaron Hicks in right Thursday. Hicks played 13 games in right during stints at Class AA New Britain and Rochester.

Schafer started in left and Santana in center, giving the Twins the most range they’ve had in the outfield all season.

“We have speed and we have coverage,” Gardenhire said. “We have three guys who are center fielders who are going to have to communicate because they all are used to taking charge. But I sure like it.”

Etc.

• The Angels announced on Thursday that righthander Cory Rasmus will start Saturday against the Twins.

• Timberwolves first-round pick Zach LaVine will throw out the first pitch Friday.

 

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