Shoemaker gives Twins fits in Angels' 7-0 win
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Matt Shoemaker is hardly fixated on Jered Weaver's impending return from the disabled list, or how it might impact his status in the Los Angeles Angels' rotation. The way he pitched Tuesday night, he certainly looked as though he belongs.
Shoemaker threw six innings of two-hit ball for his first home win of the season in nine tries, batterymate Chris Iannetta had a homer and four RBIs, and the Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 7-0 for their season-high sixth straight victory.
''I haven't even thought about it,'' Shoemaker said. ''I feel like, if you start thinking about stuff like that, you're not thinking about playing the game. I really have no clue. I just go out there and pitch.''
The AL West leaders overcame three baserunning blunders while maintaining their two-game lead over Houston, a team they trailed by seven games on May 4.
The win was the Angels' 12th in 14 games, and it followed a four-game sweep of Boston in which their pitching staff held the Red Sox to four runs in 36 innings and shut them out twice.
Star center fielder Mike Trout, the only player to appear in each of the Angels' first 92 games, was scratched because of a sore left heel that bothered him from the moment he woke up and started walking on it. The reigning AL MVP, hitting .307 with 28 homers and 57 RBIs, got some treatment at the ballpark and said he expected to be back in the lineup Wednesday night.
''You can't replace Trout. He's the best player in the game. Overall, he's one of the best players of a generation. So you can't say enough about him,'' Iannetta said. ''But we've got a really good offensive team, and everyone can help pick up a little bit of the slack and contribute to get wins. That's what we did tonight.''
Shoemaker (5-7) yielded a leadoff single in the fifth to Eduardo Nunez and a two-out single by Joe Mauer in the sixth before coming out after 88 pitches with a 7-0 lead. The right-hander, 0-3 with a 4.67 ERA in his previous five starts, tied a career best with 10 strikeouts after throwing an inning of relief last Sunday in the Angels' last game before the All-Star break.
''Lately, I didn't have the best fastball command, but tonight it was much better,'' Shoemaker said. ''When you attack the zone and get ahead of hitters, the pitcher has the advantage.''
Shoemaker's biggest out came in the sixth, when he fanned cleanup hitter Trevor Plouffe with two on to preserve a 2-0 lead.
Kyle Gibson (8-7) was charged with six runs and 10 hits in five-plus innings after going 4-0 with 1.30 ERA in his previous four starts.
''I didn't have my best stuff,'' Gibson said. ''The pitch I needed the most was my glove-side fastball. 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.''
The right-hander failed to retire any of the four batters he faced in the sixth, messing up a potential double-play comebacker by Erick Aybar with a poor throw to second that left everyone safe. The play was scored a fielder's choice.
''I got it right back to me and I knew exactly who was covering,'' Gibson said. ''I tried to throw over the base but it sailed to the right on me.''
The Twins lost their third straight after a 7-1 stretch, slipping a season-worst 6 1/2 games behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
The Angels scored in the second and third, but ran themselves into the third out both times after a run crossed the plate. Daniel Robertson, starting in center field in place of Trout, was picked off first base by Gibson to end the fifth with major league home run leader Albert Pujols at the plate.
The Angels extended their lead to 7-0 in the sixth with an RBI single by David Freese that chased Gibson, a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Matt Joyce, and Iannetta's homer against Blaine Boyer.
Twins: Rookie INF Miguel Sano, a designated hitter in 12 of the 13 games he has started in the big leagues, is expected back in the lineup Wednesday night after missing his second straight game because of a sprained right ankle.
Angels: Weaver threw 60 pitches over four innings in a simulated game, the next step in his recovery from inflammation in his left hip. ''I think there are some things that are probably more important right now than length. We need him to execute pitches. And for the most part, he did a better job of that this afternoon,'' manager Mike Scioscia said.
Twins: RHP Mike Pelfrey (5-6) will make his fifth career start against the Angels and first in almost two years. Pelfrey has made 200 big league starts without pitching a shutout.
Angels: LHP C.J. Wilson (7-7) threw eight scoreless innings of five-hit ball last Friday in a no-decision against Boston. It was the third time in five starts that he exited before his teammates could score a run. Wilson is 5-0 in his last six starts against Minnesota, despite a 5.15 ERA in those games.