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Alvarez stumbles after subbing for Norris

MLB.com @mi_guardado

ANAHEIM -- The Angels never officially named Bud Norris their closer, but the veteran right-hander had established himself as manager Mike Scioscia's preferred ninth-inning option after converting 10 of his first 11 save opportunities.

But on Thursday night, Scioscia decided to send left-hander Jose Alvarez to the mound in the ninth to protect the Halos' 2-1 lead. The move ultimately backfired, as Alvarez gave up two hits and first baseman Jefry Marte dropped an easy popup to allow the Twins to rally and hand the Angels a 4-2 series-opening loss at Angel Stadium.

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ANAHEIM -- The Angels never officially named Bud Norris their closer, but the veteran right-hander had established himself as manager Mike Scioscia's preferred ninth-inning option after converting 10 of his first 11 save opportunities.

But on Thursday night, Scioscia decided to send left-hander Jose Alvarez to the mound in the ninth to protect the Halos' 2-1 lead. The move ultimately backfired, as Alvarez gave up two hits and first baseman Jefry Marte dropped an easy popup to allow the Twins to rally and hand the Angels a 4-2 series-opening loss at Angel Stadium.

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Scioscia said he chose to go with Alvarez instead of Norris in that key spot because Norris has been dealing with right knee soreness since Saturday.

"When Bud's totally back to where he needs to be, he'll get some full innings," Scioscia said "Right now, we're trying to manage a bullpen that's been used a lot."

Norris said he's "working through some things," but he added that he didn't think his ailing knee would prevent him from handling his normal workload.

"I don't know if that's necessary or not," Norris said. "I'm going to come out here and try to pitch. That's it. I want to come out here and help this team win games, and if it's one out, two outs, four outs -- I don't care. [Scioscia's] going to make decisions on what's best for the ballclub, and we're going to go from there."

With two lefty bats and a switch-hitter due up in the ninth, Scioscia decided to match up and deploy Alvarez, who recorded the first out on a comebacker to the mound and then coaxed a simple infield popup from Jorge Polanco. But Marte allowed it to fall for a single, igniting the Twins' big rally. Alvarez subsequently surrendered a double to Eddie Rosario, an intentional walk to Eduardo Escobar and a two-run single to Jason Castro that put Minnesota ahead, 3-2.

"The bullpen, for the most part, did a great job leading up to the ninth," Scioscia said. "We just couldn't get those last couple outs."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels, Jose Alvarado, Bud Norris