Mayfield’s 3-run homer off Maeda leads Angels past Twins 3-2
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Heaney found his groove, retiring the last 11 batters he faced.
The left-hander rediscovered his belief in his own ability, too.
Jack Mayfield hit a three-run homer and Heaney finished seven innings for his longest start of the season, leading the Los Angeles Angels past Minnesota 3-2 on Thursday night after the Twins traded away All-Star slugger Nelson Cruz.
“He kept getting better, and that’s why I wanted to stay with him,” manager Joe Maddon said about his starter.
Heaney (6-7) gave up just four hits, two walks and two runs with seven strikeouts, the left-hander’s most effective appearance in six weeks.
“For my confidence, frankly I needed it to happen,” Heaney said.
Heaney fell behind 2-0 in the fourth on an RBI double by Willians Astudillo and a run-scoring groundout from Gilberto Celestino, but Mayfield picked him up in the following inning.
“There’s times when you’re not going good that you just start doubting,” said Heaney, who lowered his ERA to 5.32, still his worst mark for any season he’s topped 30 innings. “I can almost promise you that there’s a lot of other guys that feel that way, even the best players in the game.”
The Twins didn’t muster much more offense than that, with Cruz — their clubhouse leader and best hitter — now conspicuously missing from the lineup after a deal that sent the 41-year-old designated hitter to Tampa Bay.
“I think the whole team had a consensus of being a little sad to hear the news. I think that’s where we were as a team today before the game,” Twins starter Kenta Maeda said through his translator.
First baseman Miguel Sanó paid tribute by wearing his friend’s game pants.
“They both wear pretty good-sized pants, so to the eye, I could not tell any difference. But I bet it meant a lot to Miguel to be doing that, and probably Nellie, too,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Maeda (4-4) managed just fine against his most famous fellow countryman, with two strikeouts and no hits allowed for Japanese hitting-pitching sensation Shohei Ohtani.
The problem for Maeda, who had given up only seven hits and three runs with 25 strikeouts in 16 innings over his previous three starts, was at the bottom of the order. In the fifth, José Iglesias hit his second double of the game, and Adam Eaton followed with a single.
Then Mayfield, a career .170 hitter filling in at third base with Anthony Rendon on the mend, drove a 3-2 slider into the left field seats for a 3-2 lead.
Raisel Iglesias picked up his 20th save with a perfect ninth inning.
Ohtani went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He won’t be on the mound in this series because the Angels want to give him an extra day of rest. His next start will come on Monday, at home against Colorado.
After swinging hard in the Home Run Derby last week, Ohtani is 4 for 24 with one homer and 14 strikeouts out of the All-Star break, but Maddon said he sees no reason to worry about the major league home run leader.
“He feels good. He’s upbeat. He’s constantly conversing with everybody. He’ll come out of this thing. He’s not going to be perfect all year,” Maddon said.
The Twins squandered a prime scoring chance in the second, when Trevor Larnach was thrown out at home trying to score from first base on a double by Celestino. The throw from left field was well ahead of Larnach, who collided with Max Stassi as the catcher dropped the ball.
Larnach was reminded by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi and teammate Andrelton Simmons that he never touched home, but his last-ditch lunge at scoring was denied with a tag by Stassi. Simmons actually tried to pick up Larnach off the dirt by the back of his jersey and pull him toward the plate.
Angels: LF Justin Upton (right lower back strain) was reinstated from the injured list after being sidelined for almost a month. … CF Mike Trout (right calf strain) worked out on the field before the game, but he has not yet been scheduled for a rehab assignment.
Twins: C Mitch Garver was placed on the paternity leave list as he and his wife, Sarah, welcomed their first child, a healthy baby boy named Gamble.
Angels: RHP Alex Cobb (7-3, 3.96 ERA) pitches on Friday night. Cobb is 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA in three starts this month.
Twins: LHP J.A. Happ (5-5, 6.15 ERA) takes the mound for the second game of the series. Happ went seven innings in each of his last two turns after failing to go that long for 11 straight starts.
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