Twins club 3 homers to cruise past Angels

Twins club 3 homers to cruise past Angels

ANAHEIM -- Trevor Plouffe, Byron Buxton and Robbie Grossman all homered, and Ricky Nolasco contributed a quality start as the Twins rolled past the Angels, 9-4, in Southern California on Monday night, giving Minnesota its second straight win.

The Angels have dropped seven of their last eight to fall to last place in the American League West, 12 games behind the Rangers.

Plouffe gave the Twins a 4-1 lead in the third with a three-run homer off Angels starter Jered Weaver, who was charged with six runs (five earned) in six innings. Buxton cranked his first home run down the left-field line in the sixth and Grossman went deep off Al Alburquerque in the seventh, kicking off an inning that saw Minnesota plate three runs.

Grossman clears the fences

"[Plouffe] wiped the slate clean when he put three on the board," said Twins manager Paul Molitor, whose team is 4-0 against the Angels this season. "Weaver was using his off-speed, like he always does, pitching backwards. He had a lot of us off stride early, but it was nice to see Trevor [Plouffe] stay back on an off-speed and hit it out of the park."

Nolasco gave up only three runs -- on an infield single and a couple of run-scoring outs -- in six innings, scattering seven hits, walking one and striking out five. The Angels' lone bright spot was Johnny Giavotella, who tallied four hits, including a home run in the ninth inning.

Giavotella's four hits

But the Angels still fell 10 games below .500 for the first time since Aug. 31, 2013.

"It's one thing to lose, but we're kind of beating ourselves up there," Weaver said. "It's a little frustrating. But we just have to stay on track and keep grinding, see if we can't work out of this."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Second chances:
The Twins looked like they would go down quietly in the third inning as first baseman Joe Mauer hit into what appeared to be a routine, inning-ending double-play to Giavotella, the Angels' second baseman. Giavotella bobbled it, however, and threw the ball past shortstop Gregorio Petit and into left field. Plouffe took advantage, taking a 76 mph Weaver changeup and depositing it a Statcast-projected 405 feet away into the bullpen in left for a three-run homer to make it 4-1.

"It's inexcusable," Giavotella said of his play. "I work hard on my defense, I take pride in [working on it] every day. I had a routine play there. I didn't charge it, which I should've done, tried to be quick with the throw and rushed it, didn't have a good grip, and threw it wide. It put us in a hole, put Weave in a hole, and we couldn't get out of it."

Scioscia on 9-4 loss

Home run Weaver: Weaver has now allowed a Major League-leading 18 home runs, just nine shy of his previous career high, set in 2014. Weaver has six quality starts this season, but has allowed at least six earned runs in four starts since the beginning of May. His ERA is now 5.71. Angels starters are 0-6 with an 8.33 ERA over the last seven games, even though Matt Shoemaker threw eight scoreless innings in that stretch.

Weaver nonetheless said it was "the best I've felt in a while."

"He's pitching a lot with all his pitches, and at times, if you're not perfect with some of your pitches and you get them up a little bit, guys are going to have pretty good swings against them, and I think we're seeing that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's pitched some good games for us this year, and tonight there were just some pitches he'd like to have back."

Buxton blast: Buxton is not typically known for his power, but he got around on a Weaver 78 mph changeup and sent it a Statcast-projected 348 feet down the left-field line for a solo homer in the sixth inning to make it 6-3. It was his first home run this season, and just the third of his career.

Buxton's solo home run

Sloppy, sloppy: The Angels made three mistakes on defense in the three-run seventh inning that allowed the Twins to pull away. Petit, who had been solid defensively all year, booted a couple of grounders. And rather than tag Brian Dozier when he stopped between second and third with one out, Yunel Escobar froze after fielding a grounder, prompting him to only record one out and allowing an additional run to score. The next batter, Kurt Suzuki, dumped an RBI single into shallow right field. More >

Suzuki's RBI single

QUOTABLE
"They had a couple miscues on the defensive side. We've paid the price for that this year. A lot of teams have capitalized on our defensive mistakes, and tonight it was nice to see that we were able to get some hits with extra outs."-- Molitor, on defensive miscues going in his team's favor

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Former Angel Ervin Santana (1-6, 4.77 ERA) gets the nod in the second game of the series at 9:05 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Angel Stadium. Santana has lost each of his last four decisions and has a 7.30 ERA in two June starts.

Angels: Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin starts on Tuesday, with game time set for 7:05 p.m. PT. Chacin (2-4, 4.83 ERA) gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

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Fabian Ardaya is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim.

Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.