Thome Hits 598th Homer, Twins Lose To Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Facing Dan Haren wasn’t the best way for the Minnesota Twins to keep the momentum going after hitting a season-high five home runs the night before.
They only got one this time — Jim Thome’s 598th — after the Angels’ right-hander held Minnesota to one hit over the first seven innings in a 7-1 victory Thursday night.
“It’s always fun to see Thomes walk to the plate and hit a home run. That’s always a big moment, because we’re all rooting for him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But it was a tough night for us. Their guy got a lead and knew what to do with it. He pretty much dominated us and shut us down.”
Francisco Liriano (7-9) gave up seven runs and 10 hits in five innings and struck out five. The left-hander faced a lineup made up of right-handed batters — including switch-hitters Maicer Izturis, Alberto Callaspo and Erick Aybar. Liriano is 5-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 14 starts since his no-hitter against the White Sox on May 3 at Chicago.
Liriano gave up a season-high seven runs for the third time. It was the fourth time in his last eight starts that he failed to reach the sixth inning, and only the fourth time this season the Angels scored more than four runs in support of Haren while he was still in the game.
“I don’t know how to rate Frankie’s performance because we missed so many plays defensively and opportunities to get outs that we didn’t get,” Gardenhire said. “They put the ball in play and tapped it all over the place and scored five runs after two double plays should have been turned. It was just one of those nights. There wasn’t an error up on the board for us, but that’s very deceptive in a game like this.”
The second inning was a frustrating one for Twins second baseman Michael Cuddyer, whose inability to complete a double play led to two two-out runs. He fielded Mark Trumbo’s grounder toward the middle, got the force himself on Howie Kendrick and then made a wide throw to first that pulled Joe Mauer off the bag.
Trumbo advanced on a wild pitch and came home on a bloop double to left-center by Peter Bourjos, who scored from second when Cuddyer raced toward the hole to flag down Jeff Mathis’ infield hit and attempted a difficult off-balance throw to the plate that had no chance against the speedy Bourjos.
“He can pick ‘em up and put ‘em down on the basepaths, and I think you saw that a few times tonight,” Gardenhire said. “Cuddy’s running like a madman, trying to get to it, then he catches it and you really have no option but to wheel and throw it — because the guy’s flying.”
Trumbo, who leads the Angels with 21 homers and 61 RBIs, made it 5-0 in the third with a drive into upper tier of the double-decker bullpen in left field after Liriano walked his first two batters if the inning. Bourjos bunted his way on in the fourth, made it to third on Mathis’ dribbler to Liriano at the left of the mound and scored on Izturis’ bloop single to right.
“It was a tapper in front of the mound and (Bourjos) he goes from first to third. I’d like to watch the video. I don’t think he went to second. I think he went across the mound. I mean, that’s how quick he got there,” Gardenhire joked. “The guy’s just flying. He’s all over the place. He’s a very aggressive baserunner and he’s very exciting.”
Trumbo drove in another run in the fifth with an infield single to make it 7-0. The 25-year-old first baseman has a chance to become the first rookie in Angels history to lead the club in both homers and RBIs at the end of a season. The only rookie to lead them in homers was Tim Salmon, with 31 in 1993. Ken Hunt had a team-high 84 RBIs in their inaugural 1961 season, and Wally Joyner led the way with 100 RBIs in 1986.
Haren (12-6) allowed five hits, struck out six and walked none before Scott Downs pitched the ninth. The three-time All-Star allowed fewer than three earned runs for the 15th time in 24 starts this season, and is 8-1 in those games.
“What made Haren special tonight is what’s made him special for a long time. He attacks the strike zone,” Thome said. “He’s got a good cutter and his ball moves really late. Fortunately, I got a ball out over the plate that I could handle. But up to that point, he was pitching me really tough. When you’ve got a horse like that, he’s going to put them in a lot of situations to win ballgames. And he’s done that.”
Thome is on the verge of becoming the eighth player to reach the 600-homer plateau. The Twins begin six-game homestand Friday night.
“I know it’s taken a long time to get though this journey to this point. As you go through it, the process is pretty special,” Thome said. “You look back at all the good times and all the struggles. When I got close to 500, it kind of put everything in perspective. Home runs are hard to get. You can’t go out every day and think, `Oh, I’m going to hit a home run,’ because it just doesn’t work that way.”
Thome’s leadoff homer to center field on a 1-2 pitch was the first of four consecutive hits by the Twins, who homered five times in Wednesday night’s 11-4 win. But center fielder Bourjos threw out Danny Valencia at the plate as he tried to score on a single by Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Valencia appeared to have the throw beaten, but Mathis was able to block him off the plate with his foot.
Notes: Twins 1B Justin Morneau is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester on Friday, less than 5 1/2 weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a herniated disk fragment from his neck. … Downs has not allowed an earned run in 25 1-3 career innings against Minnesota — nor has he given up a run in 21 appearances this season at Angel Stadium spanning 19 innings. … Kendrick has not driven in a run in his last 41 at-bats against the Twins since July 31, 2009, when he had a go-ahead RBI single as a pinch-hitter. … Cuddyer, who hit a grand slam and a solo homer Wednesday, was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Haren and has only four hits in 27 career at-bats against him.
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