Paul Molitor knows the standings aren’t flattering to the Minnesota Twins, who have won only 20 games all season.
The manager still allowed the Twins a moment to appreciate one of their best performances of the year.
Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer, Byron Buxton and Robbie Grossman also homered and the Twins beat the slumping Los Angeles Angels 9-4 on Monday night.
Joe Mauer had two hits while reaching base for the 25th consecutive game for the AL-worst Twins, who battered Jered Weaver (5-6) in their highest-scoring performance of the season.
Ricky Nolasco (3-4) yielded three runs over six innings in his second victory since April 21 for Minnesota, which won consecutive games for the second time in June. Although they’re still 6 1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the AL’s second-worst record, the Twins got off to an encouraging start on their brief West Coast trip.
”We had a fairly complete game,” Molitor said. ”Defense was good for the most part. We got a nice, solid start, and the bullpen did their job. It’s not a lot of nights when we’ve been able to complement all areas of our game. I don’t know if it’s one of our best games, but we haven’t had many games where we’ve had leads of five, six runs going in late, so in that sense, it might be right up there.”
Johnny Giavotella homered and had a career-high four hits for the Angels (27-37), who committed three errors while falling into last place in the AL West for the first time since the season’s opening week. With reliever Cory Rasmus as the latest addition to their ridiculously lengthy injured list, the Angels dropped to a season-worst 10 games below .500 with their eighth loss in 10 games.
”The guys that are left are a good team,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”I know we’re going to play better. I know we’re going to become a better team. At times, it’s tough to be patient, but we’re going to get our rotation in order in the next couple of weeks, and that’s going to get our bullpen where it needs to be.”
Weaver allowed eight hits and six runs in six innings, taking his fifth loss in seven starts. The veteran right-hander has allowed 18 homers this season, the most in the majors.
Veteran reliever Al Alburquerque allowed three runs in the seventh inning in his Angels debut, although shortstop Gregorio Petit’s two errors were also culpable. Alburquerque is the 41st player to get on the field this season for the injury-plagued Angels, who were booed by the home crowd during that ugly inning.
Mike Trout went 1 for 4 as the Angels’ designated hitter one day after getting a bruised thumb from a pitch by Cleveland reliever Tommy Hunter.
After Mauer’s RBI single in the first inning, Minnesota got three runs on one hit in the third. Grossman walked and Mauer reached on Giavotella’s throwing error before Plouffe put his fifth homer into the bullpens beyond left field.
Plouffe, a San Fernando Valley native batting cleanup for the Twins, hit his second homer in a week after going a month without a homer.
”It’s all kind of irrelevant,” Giavotella said after his impressive offensive game. ”The story tonight is our defense. I made an error to put us in a hole, and we couldn’t get out of it. That loss is on me. We can’t give teams extra outs.”
Buxton put the Twins up 6-3 in the sixth with his first homer since last Sept. 30, clipping the top of the short fence in the left-field corner.
Grossman added a solo shot in the seventh.
Giavotella hit his first homer since May 14 in the ninth.