MINNEAPOLIS (AP) –Ian Kinsler hit a two-run home run for the lead in the seventh inning and Justin Upton went deep in the eighth, powering the Los Angeles Angels past the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Friday night.
Blake Parker pitched a perfect ninth inning for his sixth save in seven attempts, capping a strong finish for the Angels after a rough start before the game with the ominous news that two-way rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani has an elbow injury and will be out for at least three weeks.
Robbie Grossman gave the Twins a 2-1 edge with a solo homer in the sixth against starter Garrett Richards, but Noe Ramirez (2-2) and Jose Alvarez set up Parker with some shut-down relief of their own. The Angels bullpen recorded 11 outs, including five strikeouts.
That’s what the Twins were looking for, after six strong innings by Lance Lynn to continue his rebound from a rough start to his first season with the team. Ryan Pressly (0-1) gave up a double to Martin Maldonado, but he had two outs and two strikes on Kinsler before hanging a curveball that was crushed into the left-field seats.
Kinsler has five home runs in his last 10 games, batting .366 over that span. Upton, who took Addison Reed deep, has five homers in his last six games.
Struggling Twins third baseman Miguel Sano was moved to seventh in the batting order, the lowest starting spot of his major league career and only the second time this season he’s been lower than third. Since coming off the disabled list on May 25, Sano is hitting just .189 in 53 at-bats with four walks and 24 strikeouts.
He does have 12 RBIs over those 13 games, including a high chopper to third baseman Luis Valbuena in the second inning that bounced over him to earn a double ruling from the official scorer and drive in Max Kepler from first base. Sano, though, is batting .088 with two strikes (7 for 80) this season.
THE LONG ROAD
With Ohtani out, Albert Pujols was the designated hitter and Jose Fernandez played first base in his major league debut at age 30. He singled in his first at-bat. Fernandez didn’t leave his native Cuba until 2015 and didn’t join a major league organization until 2017, when he played mostly in Double-A in the Los Angeles Dodgers system. He signed with the Angels in January and was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake on Friday with infielder Nolan Fontana.
LET’S GO CRAZY
The Twins held another “Prince Night,” a heavily themed celebration of the Minneapolis-born-and-raised musician whose 60th birthday would have been on Thursday. The first 10,000 fans through the gates got inflatable plastic purple guitars. Eddie Rosario was spotted strumming one in the dugout as Grossman sent his drive to deep right field, and he leaped to his feet with the souvenir in hand as the ball cleared the wall.
Angels: Though this was largely overshadowed by Ohtani’s absence, rookie infielder Kaleb Cowart also went to the DL with a sprained left ankle. He was hurt, yes, when he missed a step while getting off the team bus upon arrival in Minnesota following an overnight flight. Cowart was called up to replace shortstop Andrelton Simmons, who sprained his right ankle on Tuesday when he slipped walking down the dugout stairs.
Twins: First baseman Joe Mauer has plateaued in his recovery from concussion-like symptoms, missing his 20th straight game. Manager Paul Molitor said the team hasn’t reached the point where a decision would be made about sending Mauer on a rehab assignment or not. “Just kind of hasn’t changed much,” Molitor said. “We’ve just been running him through workouts.”
Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs pitches on Saturday afternoon. Skaggs (4-4, 3.27 ERA), who has surrendered two runs or fewer in nine of his 12 starts, took a no-decision against the Twins on May 11 after giving up two runs on six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson takes the mound in the middle game of the series. Gibson (1-3, 3.54 ERA), who hasn’t won in 12 turns since throwing six no-hit innings in his season debut on March 31, gave up two runs on three hits and four walks with six strikeouts in six innings of a no-decision against the Angels on May 12.
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