ANAHEIM -- Matt Shoemaker set the tone with six scoreless innings and Chris Iannetta provided the dagger with a sixth-inning homer, leading the red-hot Angels to a 7-0 win over the Twins in Southern California on Tuesday night.
The Angels (53-40) have won six in a row and 16 of their last 19. They've outscored opponents, 108-43, since June 27 and remain two games up on the Astros in the American League West.
Shoemaker, fighting to keep his spot in the rotation, gave up just two hits and three walks while striking out a career-high-tying 10 batters in a six-inning, 88-pitch outing. Leading, 2-0, with two on and none out in the bottom of the sixth, the Angels provided five insurance runs on an RBI single by David Freese, a sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce and a three-run shot by Iannetta.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The other guys: The biggest ignitor of the Angels' current surge has been the lineup contributions outside of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. That was especially the case on Tuesday, when Trout sat out his first game of the season with a sore left heel. Iannetta drove in four runs, C.J. Cron had four singles, Erick Aybar scored two runs and Daniel Robertson gave the Angels a 2-0 lead by scoring on a shallow fly ball to left field.
"When we talk about being more than Mike and more than Albert, we're not really talking about being without them, but tonight we had to be," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was good to see. It was a scrappy lineup; we put the ball in play." More >
Gibson turns in clunker: Twins starter Kyle Gibson finished the first half strong, posting a 0.86 ERA over his last three starts, but he struggled in his first outing in the second half. He had trouble with his fastball command and tied a season high by allowing six runs in five-plus innings.
"I didn't have my best stuff," Gibson said. "The pitch I needed the most was my glove-side fastball, and it had been the pitch the last couple weeks that had been pretty consistent for me and allowed me to work off that. So not having that was tough."
A Shoe-in? Scioscia declared after Monday's doubleheader that young lefty Andrew Heaney would remain in the starting rotation, which pretty much means Shoemaker is headed for the bullpen when Jered Weaver (left hip inflammation) returns from the disabled list. But Shoemaker made a statement Tuesday, and has been good of late. Over his last four starts, the 28-year-old right-hander has a 2.31 ERA.
"I know we had a lot of off time in between with the All-Star break," Shoemaker said, "but [pitching coach Mike Butcher] and I worked on a lot of things in the bullpens in between, just trying to pinpoint a few things and just, 'Hey, let's just go out there and attack; get back to where you used to.'" More >
Minnesota's defense, bullpen falter in sixth: The five-run sixth inning for the Angels was keyed by the Twins failing to make plays early in the inning. Pujols reached on an infield single to shortstop Eduardo Escobar and Aybar followed with a comebacker, but Gibson's throw to second sailed wide. Gibson left the bases loaded and Blaine Boyer couldn't limit the damage, giving up Iannetta's three-run blast, as he continued his recent funk.
"We just didn't make plays," Molitor said. "We were playing a hot team. When you give a team more opportunities, they capitalize on it, and they certainly did all night long." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cron had four singles in Monday's win, giving him six multi-hit games over his last 10. The 25-year-old right-handed slugger is batting .541 over that span, raising his batting average from .198 to .278.
"We haven't had the bats going since the first game coming out of the break. And we got a lot of runs on two swings in that particular game. So we've struggled offensively." -- Molitor on the Twins, who have been outscored by a 24-3 margin during their three-game losing streak
"It'll be a nice problem when Jered's ready to go and we have more depth established in our rotation. … If you have six guys throwing the ball well out of rotation and you have to pick five, that's a nice position to be in." -- Scioscia, on the looming decision with his solid rotation
Iannetta's two-out RBI single to center field in the second inning scored Aybar, but Cron was ruled safe on a close play at third as he tried to advance from first. The Twins challenged third-base umpire D.J. Reyburn's call, and it was overturned, which ended the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey starts the second game of the series on Wednesday at 9:05 p.m. CT. Pelfrey, who has a 4.00 ERA in 17 outings, started the season strong, but he has a 7.59 ERA over his last six starts.
Angels: Left-hander C.J. Wilson, coming off eight scoreless innings against the Red Sox on Friday, will oppose Pelfrey at 7:05 p.m. PT. Wilson gave up nine runs in 11 1/3 innings in two starts against the Twins last season.