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3 takeaways after Angels drop series to Twins

Ninth-inning comeback falls just short, Halos end trip with 5-6 mark
@RhettBollinger
May 15, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Angels completed their four-city, 11-game road trip with a sour taste in their mouths, as right-hander Trevor Cahill scuffled and they couldn’t complete a late comeback attempt in an 8-7 loss to the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field. The Angels went 5-6 on their trip

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Angels completed their four-city, 11-game road trip with a sour taste in their mouths, as right-hander Trevor Cahill scuffled and they couldn’t complete a late comeback attempt in an 8-7 loss to the Twins on Wednesday afternoon at Target Field.

The Angels went 5-6 on their trip away from Angel Stadium, although their two losses to the Astros in Monterrey, Mexico, technically count as home games. Cahill made three starts on the trip, allowing 14 runs in 13 2/3 innings for a 9.22 ERA, including getting charged with six runs on six hits and two walks over 4 1/3 innings in the loss on Wednesday.

“It was a losing road trip so you don’t want to assess it as a good road trip,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “I thought today was a great effort; getting behind and fighting back. It felt like we could’ve won that game there. We had the right guys up but it just didn’t happen.”

Box score

Here’s a look at three takeaways from the Halos’ lengthy road trip:

1) Cahill looking to turn the corner
Cahill was roughed up in Mexico, then he fared better in Baltimore, but he couldn’t build on that outing against the Angels, as he was again plagued by familiar problems. He was hurt by a sloppy second inning that saw C.J. Cron reach on a strikeout to open the frame, before he tried to make a glove flip on a slow grounder hit by Jonathan Schoop, only to fall over on the play and see the ball get past first baseman Jared Walsh for an error. It set up a two-run double from Ehire Adrianza to give Minnesota an early lead.

Cahill was hit hard in a four-run fifth, giving up a two-run homer to Byron Buxton, a triple to Jorge Polanco and a double to Eddie Rosario. Cahill has now served up 14 homers in 44 innings this year after giving up eight in 110 frames in 2018, and the 14 homers are tied for the Major League lead.

“I felt better,” Cahill said. “I felt like I had quick outs, like I was attacking the zone. Just the fifth inning happened so quick, I haven't even had the chance to process it."

The Halos signed Cahill to a one-year deal worth $9 million in the offseason, and Ausmus was asked whether Cahill will remain in the rotation.

“Yeah, his last start was really good,” Ausmus said. “And most of this start was really good. It was just the last inning. His changeup has really come around the last two starts and looks like the weapon that it was last year. So really, that’s what gives me hope more than anything.”

2) La Stella remains La Slugger
Tommy La Stella
has been a pleasant surprise this year with unexpected power numbers, and he hasn't showed any signs of slowing down. He went 4-for-5 and homered again on Wednesday, giving him four blasts over his last six games and 11 on the year. La Stella entered the season with 10 career homers in 396 games over five seasons with the Braves and Cubs.

La Stella hit .464 with six RBIs in eight games on this road trip, and he has established himself as an everyday player whether he's starting at third base or second.

3) Angels' offense is starting to heat up
The Halos were down 8-3 in the sixth, but they nearly mounted a five-run comeback, including a tense ninth inning that saw them score three runs and load the bases with two outs for both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani. Trout was hit by a pitch to make it a one-run game, but Ohtani grounded out to end the game.

Ohtani had a rough day at the plate, going 1-for-6 with nine runners left on base, but it’s clear he lengthens the lineup. And he did hit his first homer on Monday before picking up three hits on Tuesday.

The Angels have averaged 6.4 runs per game in eight games with Ohtani in the lineup, which is much higher than the 4.6 runs they were averaging before Ohtani’s return.

"We’re swinging the bat well," Halos first baseman Albert Pujols said. "We could have easily won the series here. Obviously, the Twins are a hot team and we were able to take the first game of the series. Last night and today, it could have easily went either way and we could have finished the road trip great."

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.