Oswaldo Arcia hit a single off closer Huston Street in the 12th inning to lift the Twins to a 3-2 walk-off win and complete a three-game sweep of the Angels on Sunday at Target Field.
With Byron Buxton at second base with two outs after a stolen base, Arcia lifted a fly ball into the left-field corner just out of the reach of a diving Rafael Ortega. It allowed Buxton to score the winning run in Minnesota's first walk-off win of the season.
"It was definitely a good ballgame with good pitching on both sides," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "A lot of things happened in such a long game like that. We just had to grind. We had opportunities to put up some numbers, but we were able to tie it late. And then it was a matter of hanging on and throwing zeros before we pushed one across."
The Angels scored early on a two-run blast from Albert Pujols in the first inning, but couldn't get anything going offensively after that, as they didn't have a hit after the fourth inning. It was career homer No. 562 for Pujols and came on a 1-0 fastball from right-hander Kyle Gibson, who was otherwise solid over seven innings.
Angels starter Nick Tropeano also fared well, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, but was stuck with a no-decision.
"After like the fourth inning, we didn't pressure these guys at all," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Those guys pressured us a lot on the offensive side and we did a lot of good things out there. Unfortunately, we didn't do enough in the batter's box to give ourselves a chance to win."
Reliever Joe Smith, who gave up two homers in the eighth inning on Saturday, allowed the tying run in the eighth on a double-play grounder hit by Arcia after back-to-back singles fromMiguel Sano and Trevor Plouffe. Smith stayed in for the ninth and was able to get out of a bases-loaded situation with two outs, getting Buxton to ground out to shortstop.
Twins relievers Casey Fien, Ryan O'Rourke, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May and Michael Tonkin combined to throw five hitless innings. Tonkin was particularly impressive, striking out four over two perfect innings to get his first Major League win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Help from friends: With two out and two on in the seventh, Joe Mauer singled to left. Angels left fielder Ortega came up with the ball quickly and sent a strong throw on one hop to nab Eduardo Nunez trying to score, allowing the Angels to hold onto a 2-1 lead at the time.
The Angels got out of a similar jam in the ninth with Smith pitching. Mauer was intentionally walked to load the bases before shortstop Andrelton Simmons secured a hard-hit grounder from Buxton and threw to third to end the inning.
Sano, Plouffe double up: The Twins got on the board in the fourth, when Sano doubled to left with one out before scoring on a double to right from Plouffe. But Plouffe was stranded at second after a walk to Arcia, as Byung Ho Park and Eddie Rosario both struck out. They teamed up again in the eighth to tie the game, as Sano opened with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Buxton. Plouffe followed with a single to right to get Buxton to third. Buxton scored the tying run on a double-play grounder from Arcia.
Power from Pujols: Pujols showed he can still hit the ball a long way when he homered to open the scoring in the first inning. With Mike Trout on base, Pujols sent a Gibson pitch deep into the second deck in left field. The towering shot -- projected to travel 395.93 feet and coming off the bat at 103.52 mph, according to Statcast™ -- was Pujols' second home run of the series, accounting for both of his homers this season.
Pujols, who has 562 homers and is one shy of tying Reggie Jackson for 13th all-time, flied out to the warning track in center field in the eighth.
Gibson settles in: After issuing a leadoff walk and allowing Pujols' two-run homer in the first, Gibson was able to get back on track. The right-hander went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
"After that [homer], we had a pretty good gameplan coming in and I was able to execute," Gibson said. "As a starting staff, you want to be trusted to give the team six or seven innings. Just because you give up a couple early, you gotta be able to lock it down and give the offense a chance."
QUOTABLE "To endure that first stretch and respond this way is a good sign -- 0-9 is a pretty big hole so you don't want to get too giddy. But you'll take bunching some wins here in response to that 0-9. So the guys should enjoy themselves here." -- Molitor, on the sweep
"You're going to give up runs, it's just going to happen. You're not going to have a bullpen put up zero every single time. Not a realistic expectation. But we still expect ourselves to hold leads, especially one of the days. We have high expectations. At the same time, you don't ever want to underreact, but you never should overreact to just a small sample size." --Street
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS With his two singles, Mauer tied Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew with 1,173 hits, which is the fifth-most in Twins history.
PLOUFFE EXITS Plouffe drew a leadoff walk in the 10th inning, but was stranded there when Rosario flied out to center. But as Plouffe ran on the fly ball from Rosario, he grabbed at his side and walked off the field with trainer Dave Pruemer. Plouffe was diagnosed with a right intercostal strain and initially suffered the injury on a swing in the sixth inning. He was replaced by Eduardo Escobar and is considered day to day. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Angels: Left-hander Hector Santiago gets the ball on Monday as the Angels continue their 10-game road trip against the White Sox at 5:10 p.m. PT. Santiago, a former Draft pick by Chicago, is coming off his longest outing in three seasons with the Angels -- 7 2/3 innings with four runs allowed against Oakland.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes gets the nod in the series opener on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT as the Twins remain at Target Field to take on the Brewers in a two-game series. Hughes is looking for his first win of the year despite registering two quality starts.