A season filled with low points might have hit rock bottom Wednesday night when the Angels lost to the Minnesota Twins, 14-3, in front of 10,639 in the Metrodome.
The Twins closed out a three-game sweep of the Angels by scoring nine runs on eight hits in the fourth inning, the most runs the Angels have given up in an inning since their club-record 13 against Milwaukee on July 8, 1990.
The Angels lost to a pitcher (Scott Aldred) who hadn’t won a major league game since May 14, 1993; who entered with an 8.44 earned-run average, and who was so bad this season he was released by the Detroit Tigers in May.
The Angels, picked by many to win the American League West, fell to 27-30 with their fourth consecutive loss, remain 7 1/2 games behind the Texas Rangers and show almost no signs of contending for the division title.
But take heart, Angel fans. Think of the upside of having one of baseball’s most underachieving teams:
--No epic, late-season collapses and ugly comparisons to the 1978 Boston Red Sox, 1969 Chicago Cubs, 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers . . . and 1995 California Angels.
--No late-July trade, giving away coveted prospects for a high-priced pitcher who will disappoint.
--No losing one-game playoff for division title.
--No 10-year anniversary of Angels’ last playoff appearance, marked by reenactment of championship series disaster against Red Sox.
--Walt Disney Co. won’t have to design commemorative playoff tickets, leaving more time to concentrate on “Angels in the Outfield” sequel.
“We don’t have a lot going our way right now,” said shortstop Gary DiSarcina, who left in the sixth inning because of a tight left hamstring, joining designated hitter Chili Davis and third baseman Jack Howell on the injured left hamstring list.
“We can’t seem to slip by with one mistake, whether it’s hitting, pitching or defense. It seems like every time something little happens it turns into something big.”
Take the bottom of the fourth Wednesday night. Two walks by starter Mark Langston and Paul Molitor’s single gave the Twins a 5-2 lead, and Manager Marcel Lachemann pulled the struggling Langston, who had made 86 pitches.
Three more pitchers and 10 batters later, the Twins had a 13-2 lead, the first four runs scoring on RBI singles and the next four on Chuck Knoblauch’s grand slam.
“It’s the same story we’ve been fighting,” Lachemann said. “It’s a 5-2 game, we have to shut it down, and the next thing you know it’s 13-2. You can’t do that, and we’ve done it way too many times this season.”
There were heroes aplenty for the Twins besides Knoblauch. Marty Cordova, the 1995 AL rookie of the year, had four hits and two RBIs, Ron Coomer had three hits and three RBIs, and designated hitter Molitor went three for four with two runs and three RBIs.
Molitor drove a fastball into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer off Langston in the first and now has a .429 career average (27 for 63) with four homers off the Angel left-hander.
“He’s that good off me?” Langston asked. “I should have walked him.”
And then there was Aldred, the left-hander who was claimed by the Twins off waivers from the Tigers on May 28 after going 0-4 with a 9.35 ERA in Detroit. But in his first Minnesota start, he gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings to help the Twins (28-28) win their fifth in a row.
“Everybody looks like Cy Young to us right now,” DiSarcina said.
Said Lachemann: “Our biggest problem is we’re not hitting or pitching. It doesn’t make any difference where you’re at--if you don’t do those things, you’re not going to win.”