Angels’ Vargas roughed up in 8-6 loss to Twins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has watched Joe Mauer chew up opposing pitchers for so long that sometimes he has to remind himself that hitting isn’t as easy as Mauer makes it look.
Now is one of those times.
Mauer had another four hits and three RBIs to lead the Twins to an 8-6 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday.
“I’ve seen him hit his whole career,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve seen him do this. I keep saying it’s incredible, and it is. At this level, to keep swinging and get those hits and rack them up like that, it is incredible. That will never change. He’s just an amazing hitter.”
Mauer sprayed four singles into the Target Field outfield, making him 8 for 10 in the series through two games and raising his average to .386. Brian Dozier added two hits and two RBIs in his first career game batting leadoff for the Twins.
Left-hander Jason Vargas (0-2) gave up five runs and nine hits with two walks in just 3 1-3 innings for the Angels, who are off to another slow start after spending big in the winter to chase a championship. They have lost 10 of their first 14 games thanks in large part to poor starting pitching.
Mike Trout had two hits and three RBIs, including a two-run double in the ninth off Glen Perkins. But shortstop Pedro Florimon grabbed a ricochet off third baseman Trevor Plouffe’s glove to get Albert Pujols to end the game and give Perkins his third save.
Mike Pelfrey (2-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings for the Twins. He was shaky again in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, but Mauer took care of the offense.
One night after the star catcher homered among his four hits to help the Twins break out of a season-long offensive funk, they hurt Vargas with long at-bats.
Mauer picked up a pair of two-strike singles up the middle in the first two innings, the last of which scored two to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead. He singled again in the fourth inning, giving him six straight hits in the series.
Even his lone out of the night was a loud one, a screaming line drive at left fielder Trout’s knees in the fifth inning. He came back with one more RBI single in the seventh to make it 8-4.
“When he gets hot,” Dozier said, “nobody can really stop him.”
It was the second time in his career that the three-time AL batting champion has had at least four hits in back-to-back games. He also did it June 26-27, 2006, against the Dodgers.
“I’m seeing the ball pretty well,” Mauer said with typical understatement. “I’m just trying to hold on to that feeling.”
The last thing the beleaguered Angels pitching staff needed was another short outing from the starting pitcher. But that’s exactly what they got from Vargas, who needed 90 pitches to get 10 outs.
Trout picked up just his third RBI of the season on a hard-hit single and Pujols followed with one of his own to tie the score 3-3. Vargas left with one out in the fourth after Justin Morneau scorched a base hit that took a wicked hop off first baseman Mark Trumbo’s shoulder and gave the Twins a 5-4 lead.
“There’s not one magic cure for all the guys that are struggling right now,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Everybody has their own unique set of circumstances and they’re going to have to make adjustments according to their own game on what they need to do. I think we have some really good pitchers that just aren’t throwing the ball well right now.”
Twins outfielder Wilkin Ramirez left the game in the fifth inning after being hit in the back with a pickoff attempt by Williams. Ramirez is listed day to day.
NOTES: Angels RHP Ryan Madson threw 40 pitches off the mound before the game as he gets closer to a return from Tommy John surgery. Manager Mike Scioscia said everything went well and the next step is for Madson to throw a simulated game, most likely when the Angels return home on Friday. … Twins CF Darin Mastroianni was a late scratch because of a sore left ankle. … Twins slugger Josh Willingham missed his second straight game due to illness. … RHP Vance Worley (0-2, 10.50) will pitch for the Twins against RHP Tommy Hanson (1-1, 6.55) in the season finale on Wednesday night.