ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Twins manager Paul Molitor doesn’t like to look ahead, but he did acknowledge what the Twins are facing over the next week.
They’re in Anaheim for a three-game series against the Angels. They go home for three games against the Yankees, then two against the Pirates. Entering play Tuesday, those teams were a combined 37 games over .500. The Angels and Yankees are division leaders, and the Pirates had the second-best record in the National League.
The Twins looked to pick themselves up off the ground after a blowout loss to Oakland on Sunday. Instead, they did a lot of things to reinforce their current state during a 7-0 loss to Los Angeles.
Righthander Kyle Gibson was knocked out in the sixth inning after struggling with command. Angels righthander Matt Shoemaker threw no-hit ball for four innings. Mix in some poor defensive plays that won’t show up in the boxscore, and the Twins have lost three in a row after winning the first game following the All-Star break. They were shut out for the seventh time this season.
And over their past two games, the Twins have been drubbed 21-1. So much for getting off the ground.
It looked like the Twins had caught a break four hours before first pitch when the Angels’ initial lineup had no Albert Pujols and no Mike Trout. That’s only 57 homers on the bench.
Trout has a sore left heel. Pujols was scheduled to be off, but told the coaching staff he could play and was added to the lineup.
Pujols reached base twice and scored during the rout. And Daniel Robertson, Trout’s replacement, singled in his first two at-bats. So much for getting a break.
The Angels opened the scoring in the second when the .191-hitting Chris Iannetta delivered an RBI single to score Erick Aybar.
Gibson’s issues were obvious early. He threw first-pitch strikes to three of the first 13 batters he faced and had been to three-ball counts three times by then.
The Angels loaded the bases in the third inning on a single by Robertson, a single by Johnny Giavotella and a walk to Cole Calhoun. Up came Pujols, who had hit three home runs during a doubleheader Monday. Gibson got Pujols to chase a slider off the plate to strike out. Aybar followed with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Robertson from third. Eddie Rosario caught the ball and had time to throw Robertson out at home, but sliced it up the line.
Shoemaker (5-7) doesn’t throw hard but had the Twins flailing away at offspeed pitches as he collected 10 strikeouts and held the Twins to two hits over six innings. Leadoff hitter Brian Dozier went down swinging in all three plate appearances against Shoemaker.
Still, the Twins were a little rally away from getting back into the game — before Gibson (8-7) faltered in the sixth.
Pujols reached on an infield hit. Aybar followed with a bouncer back to the mound — a perfect time for Gibson’s major league-leading 23rd double-play ball. Gibson, who has never committed an error in 60 starts and 349 innings pitched, led Eduardo Escobar too far with his throw, and everyone was safe. David Freese singled to center to score Pujols and make it 3-0. C.J. Cron loaded the bases with a single, and Molitor pulled Gibson for Blaine Boyer.
Joyce hit a sacrifice fly as the Angels took a 4-0 lead. Then Iannetta — who had upped his average to .194 — crushed a three-run homer to make it 7-0.