Angels 8, Twins 3
Garret Anderson homered and right fielder Jeff DaVanon threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the seventh inning as the defending World Series champions beat Minnesota 8-3 Sunday, completing a three-game sweep of the team they defeated in last year’s AL championship series.
John Lackey (7-8) allowed three runs and seven hits over six-plus innings, striking out five and walking two. Bengie Molina drove in two runs, helping the Angels win their fifth straight and 12th in 16 games.
“I wish the break wasn’t here because things are starting to roll for us and we’re starting to get hot as a team,” DaVanon said. “Hopefully, it’ll carry over after the break. Baseball is a game of momentum, and when you have it, you don’t want to stop playing. I don’t want to stop.”
The Angels (49-43) are 8 1/2 games behind first-place Seattle in the AL West. Their .533 winning percentage at the All-Star break is the sixth-lowest among the last 20 teams to win the World Series the previous year.
The only other defending champs with worse records during that stretch were the salary-slashing 1998 Marlins (32-55, .368), the 1994 Blue Jays (38-48, .442), 1989 Dodgers (40-47, .460), 1986 Royals (40-48, .455) and 1983 Cardinals (40-39, .506).
“The World Series comes with a lot of things going your way—a lot of magic happening,” said Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher, who was on that riches-to-rags ’89 Dodgers team with Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia and first base coach Alfredo Griffin.
“Sometimes it takes a while to get back to that level of baseball. The magic hasn’t been there like it was last year, but as of late, we’ve been playing very well.”
Minnesota, which started the day 6 1/2 games behind Kansas City in the AL Central, is 44-49. Last year at the break, the Twins were 50-39 en route to a division title and a meeting with the Angels in the ALCS, which Anaheim won in five games.
“We’re the hunted—and when the rabbit has the gun and he’s chasing you, it’s no fun. So we’ve got to realize that,” said center fielder Torii Hunter, who drove in Minnesota’s first two runs with his 14th homer.
“We probably need a mental break for those three days, but I think we’ll be fine. A lot of things are going to change in the second half. We’re going to be a better team.”
The Twins have lost eight in a row, 22 of 28 and nine straight on the road.
“We just haven’t been clicking like we were last year when we got into a streak where we were going out and putting it to everybody every game,” Minnesota’s Bobby Kielty said. “Hopefully, the All-Star break will help us get back to where we were last year. I think it’s going to help us quite a bit to take some time off, get away for a little bit, freshen up and come back ready to go.”
A.J. Pierzynski, who was 3-for-4, trimmed Anaheim’s lead to 4-3 in the sixth with an RBI single that scored Doug Mientkiewicz—who barely beat the throw home from left fielder Anderson. But DaVanon, who started in right while Tim Salmon was the DH, charged Denny Hocking’s single in the seventh and made a perfect peg to the plate to Molina, who slapped the tag on Luis Rivas.
“We made a couple of baserunning mistakes, but I was really proud of the guys. They were really battling,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We got some big hits when we had to and some scoring opportunities. We kept coming back at them and kept battling. And that’s what we’re looking for—a little life and a little fire.”
Kyle Lohse (6-8) lost his fourth straight decision over six starts, allowingfour runs and five hits in four innings—including Anderson’s 22nd homer.
The Angels, who outhomered Minnesota 8-0 in the ALCS, had a 3-2 advantage in this series. … Mientkiewicz broke his bat in the first inning and didn’t realize he had hit a grounder to first base. Scott Spiezio jogged to the bag while Mientkiewicz was still standing in the batter’s box looking forthe barrel of the bat.