ANAHEIM, Calif. — It took just three pitches to unravel five solid innings of Trevor Cahill’s work. And two of them, Cahill didn’t even throw. Rather, the righty watched from afar as the lead he had been protecting quickly disintegrated.
The Twins had managed just one hit through the first five innings of the game, but after Max Kepler socked a double to right, Angels manager Brad Ausmus came out to get his starter, turning the ball over to Justin Anderson.
Jorge Polanco greeted him with a double and the next batter, Marwin Gonzalez, ambushed him with a high, towering two-run shot that stayed just fair in right field. Just like that, the Twins’ offense had awoken, quickly turning a deficit into a tie and then a lead in their 8-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels in the second game of the three-game set at Angel Stadium.
“We have one of the best offenses in the league and we have shown it,” Gonzalez said. “That’s one thing. We never quit. We can change the game in one inning. That’s basically what we did today.”
These Twins (32-16), they’re not going to stay quiet for too long. And so, after scoring three in the sixth, they continued to beat up on the Angels’ (22-26) bullpen, one of the best in the majors.
A Jason Castro hit by pitch keyed another rally, one which ended with the Twins putting another four runs on the board off reliever Luke Bard. Polanco and Gonzalez each drove in a run before Polanco started playing mind games with Bard.
With a shift on, Eddie Rosario at the plate and third baseman Tommy La Stella far away from the bag, Polanco took his lead. At times, he looked as if he was nearly halfway up the line toward home plate, practically taunting Bard and catcher Jonathan Lucroy to come get him.
They both, at different times, tried to chase him back to the bag. Once Bard took his attention off Polanco long enough to focus on Rosario, the left fielder broke the game open. Rosario chopped a single to the right side of the infield, which both shortstop David Fletcher and second baseman Luis Rengifo converged on and missed, two runs scoring on the play.
“Polo did a very good job of being aware of what’s going on out on the field,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Making a decision while he’s out there to, not to say make something happen, but whatever he was given, he was going to take it in that situation. And it put us in a good spot. The one impressive thing, too, is that Rosie stayed locked in on his at-bat and didn’t get distracted by everything going on.”
An inning later, Luis Arraez provided another highlight for the Twins. The young infielder, called up last week when Nelson Cruz hit the Injured List, had the Twins’ first hit of the game in the fifth inning. And in the eighth, Arraez got ahold of the first home run of his career, raising an arm triumphantly as he jogged between first and second.
“I was very excited because obviously it was my first homer in the big leagues and also it was the pitch I was looking for and I was able to connect very well,” Arraez said.
How good are things going for him? Arraez has hit just six home runs during his entire minor league career. It took only 14 plate appearances to get his first in the majors. He is now 7-for-12 (.538) since being called up.
Tuesday’s beneficiary of the offensive output was starter Michael Pineda, who settled in after giving up a home run to Mike Trout in the first inning and a pair of runs in the second to throw his third straight quality start while the Twins broke through for the lead immediately after his departure.
“Even if we’re in the middle of a game and we haven’t gotten anything going yet, we’ve proved if we stick to our plan and try to have good at-bats, you get where you want to be,” Baldelli said.