MINNEAPOLIS -- The overcast sky loomed ominously on Saturday morning when Mike Scioscia met with reporters in the dugout for his daily pregame media session. The tarp remained on Target Field as rain steadily drizzled, but Scioscia predicted a favorable forecast -- for the weather and for his team."We're going
MINNEAPOLIS -- The overcast sky loomed ominously on Saturday morning when Mike Scioscia met with reporters in the dugout for his daily pregame media session. The tarp remained on Target Field as rain steadily drizzled, but Scioscia predicted a favorable forecast -- for the weather and for his team.
"We're going to be OK," Scioscia said. "We're going to be a little wet. The forecast is for us to do a good job controlling the strike zone from the pitcher's side, get the game on our terms and come out with a win."
After a four-hour rain delay, the Angels fulfilled those expectations, as Ian Kinsler and Jose Pujols homered and left-hander Tyler Skaggs tossed seven strong innings in a 2-1 victory over the Twins that extended the club's winning streak to six games.
Kinsler's third home run in as many games put the Angels on the board in the third, and Pujols added an insurance run with another solo shot in the sixth. Pujols' 623rd career home run also yielded his 1,951st career RBI, tying him with Stan Musial for sixth on the all-time list. The 38-year-old slugger plans to donate the home run ball to the Musial family, along with his jersey and bat from Saturday's game.
"Albert has the utmost respect for what Stan Musial was about," Scioscia said. "Not only on the field, but he was a man of great character off the field. I know those two had a chance to spend a lot of time together when he was in St. Louis. He respects his legacy tremendously, so for him to be in the same sentence as Stan Musial, I know it's a nice feeling for Albert."
Unbothered by the lengthy rain delay, Skaggs limited the Twins to one run on five hits while walking one and striking out eight. He has now allowed two or fewer runs in 10 of his 13 starts this season, lowering his ERA to 3.08.
Skaggs said he consumed four Red Bull energy drinks as he waited for the rain to dissipate to help keep himself sharp.
"It wasn't too difficult," Skaggs said. "Coming up in the Minor Leagues, I played in a place called Mobile, Alabama, where it rains almost every single day. I've had a lot of practice waiting out rain delays. I just tried to stay focused. I knew it was going to let up sometime today, I knew we were going to play today, so just kind of stayed in the moment."
The Twins threatened in the second after Skaggs surrendered a two-out double to Miguel Sano and a walk to Ehire Adrianza, but he avoided damage by coaxing a forceout from Ryan LaMarre to end the inning. Adrianza also led off the fifth with a double to left field, but Skaggs retired the next three batters on eight pitches to leave him stranded.
"Those are big outs there," Scioscia said. "No doubt, he had all three pitches working. He had his fastball in different zones, elevated it, got it to the outside corner. He pitched with his back against the wall the whole day."
Skaggs fell into a bit of a jam in the sixth after Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman singled to put runners on the corners with one out, though he minimized damage by inducing a double play on a bouncer to first base from Max Kepler. Jose Fernandez fielded the ball, stepped on first for the out and then threw to Zack Cozart at second, but Grossman forced a rundown to give Rosario enough time to score from third, cutting the Angels' lead to 2-1.
Skaggs returned to the mound in the seventh and capped his outing by striking out the side. He departed after throwing 112 pitches, two shy of his career high.
"I felt like I put an explanation point on the outing," Skaggs said. "I was happy with it."
Justin Anderson worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Richard Parker, who worked around a two-out base hit to earn his seventh save of the season and shut the door for the Angels.
Scioscia said he's been most impressed by the strength of the Angels' rotation over the club's six-game winning streak. Angels starters have now recorded a 2.58 ERA since May 1, the best mark in the American League.
"I think on the offensive side, we've gotten some really clutch hits, which have helped," Scioscia said. "But we're getting our rotation doing what it needs to do. Going around that rotation a couple times gives us a chance to win, and that way we can get on some of these streaks. They're doing a very good job of it."
The Angels will send right-hander Nick Tropeano (3-3, 4.35 ERA) to the mound on Sunday afternoon as they close out their three-game series with the Twins at 11:10 a.m. PT at Target Field. Minnesota will counter with rookie right-hander Fernando Romero (2-2, 3.96 ERA). Tropeano faced the Twins on May 12 in Anaheim but did not factor into the decision after allowing three runs over six innings. In three career appearances (two starts) against Minnesota, Tropeano is 0-0 with a 2.84 ERA.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.