ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Their journey began with a punch in the gut, a ninth-inning homer by White Sox outfielder Trayce Thompson off Addison Reed on May 3.
Sunday, the Twins had to make another slow trot off the field as the Angels scored off Zach Duke in the ninth inning to win a 2-1 battle. It was the Twins’ major league-high sixth walkoff loss. Still, after the game, the feelings were nowhere nearly as raw as they were earlier in the month.
“When we first came in [the clubhouse],” second baseman Brian Dozier said, “everyone was saying, ‘Heck of a road trip.’ ”
A lot happened between the bookend walkoff losses. The Twins went 7-1 in the other eight games of the 10-game road trip. They swept a two-game series over the NL Central-leading Cardinals and split four tight games with an Angels team that’s right on the heels of the defending World Series champion Astros in the AL West.
The Twins might lament not recording another victory or two on this trip, but they will open a nine-game homestand this week back within two games of .500 and confident that they are performing closer to the way they should be.
“We came out and had a tough trip and found a way to come away with a winning record,” manager Paul Molitor said. “A lot of good signs. Some guys swung the bat well, and our pitching was pretty good for the most part.”
In four days in Anaheim, the Twins got a first-hand look at what Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani was all about. Thursday, he homered and hit an RBI double. Sunday, he held the Twins to one earned run on three hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts.
Down 1-0 in the seventh, the Twins took advantage of a walk to Logan Morrison on Ohtani’s 103rd and final pitch. Morrison’s aggressive baserunning got him to third on Robbie Grossman’s single to right, and then Morrison’s pinch runner, Ehire Adrianza, scored the tying run on Joe Mauer’s pinch-hit single.
However, Adrianza should have scored another run two innings later. In the top of the ninth, he lined a one-out single off Blake Parker, then took off to second on a 1-2 pitch to Grossman. Grossman swung and drove the ball to the wall in right-center field.
Adrianza slowed at second base to see where the outfielders were. He could have peeked toward the plate while running to second — he might not have stopped had he seen how well Grossman hit the ball.
“I saw [Angels right fielder] Chris Young,” Adrianza said. “When he turned his back, I was going for sure. Everything was fine after that. It was a pretty good relay.”
Adrianza was waved home, but he was thrown out by second baseman Ian Kinsler’s throw on a close play at the plate.
In the bottom of the inning, Duke hit Young with an 0-2 pitch. Young was bunted to second, then scored when Zack Cozart hit Duke’s first pitch to him to left for a winning RBI single.
“It’s never a good idea to hit the leadoff guy,” Duke said.
Duke had gone 13 consecutive appearances without giving up an earned run before Sunday. He said he will just start a new streak tomorrow, a reflection of how the Twins have shaken off many of their tough losses.
“We’re playing good, clean baseball,” Duke said. “Outside of today, we’ve been coming up with big hits late and just grinding through. We’re not going to carry over today. Just be ready for the Mariners tomorrow.”