Angels run out of steam in opener

Angels run out of steam in opener

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Angels knocked the ball all over the Metrodome on Friday night, but they couldn't knock out Twins starter Carlos Silva. Then Michael Cuddyer delivered a one-two punch that flattened the Angels for good.

Cuddyer's two-out double in the sixth broke a 4-4 tie, and he added a two-run double in the eighth to help the Twins beat the Angels, 7-4.

The Angels handed starter Paul Byrd (1-3) a 4-1 lead after three innings, but they couldn't add to the cushion, and the Twins chipped away until the lead, and Byrd, were gone.

"I'm not going to hang my head and pout, but I'm not going to lie to you, either," Byrd said. "I am frustrated. We hit the ball on the screws all over the yard, but we didn't have as much to show for it as we could have.

"Then in the fifth and sixth innings, they did a good job of putting the ball in play. I guess that was the key to the game. They didn't try to do too much. They even threw the bat at it a couple of times, but they put the ball in play."

Trailing by a run with one out in the sixth, Justin Morneau hit an opposite-field double. Byrd got Torii Hunter to fly to right, bringing up Jacque Jones, one of the Twins' hottest hitters. Angels manager Mike Scioscia had Jones walked intentionally, but Lew Ford followed with a single off the end of his bat to drive in Morneau with the tying run.

"[Jones is] swinging the bat very well, and I thought we had a better matchup, not that Lew Ford is an easy out," Scioscia said. "He got the job done with a good piece of hitting."

Cuddyer then lined an outside pitch over the head of second baseman Chone Figgins and into the right-center gap, plating Jones with the go-ahead run.

Byrd was particularly frustrated that the Twins were hitting his pitches, including a slider that was dancing all over the strike zone.

"The back-to-back pitches to Lew Ford and Cuddyer were sliders down and away," Byrd said. "The second one was off the plate about a foot and Cuddyer just threw his bat at it."

Equally maddening for the Angels were two straight innings when they didn't score after putting runners on the corners with nobody out. In the fourth, Josh Paul hit a sinking liner to second base, and Nick Punto caught the ball and doubled up Dallas McPherson at first.

"He just misread it," Scioscia said. "He thought it was going to drop."

Then in the fifth, Darin Erstad doubled and Figgins singled to start the inning. Figgins stole second before Vladimir Guerrero lined out to shortstop Jason Bartlett. The Twins then intentionally walked Garret Anderson to bring up Steve Finley, who entered the game hitting .165 despite being lauded by Scioscia before the game for hitting the ball hard all month.

Finley followed that pattern once again, smacking a hard grounder to Bartlett, who started a 4-6-3 double play to once again save Silva's bacon.

You couldn't blame the Angels if deja vu was beginning to set in. Last August, Silva shut out the Angels on a tidy 11-hitter, and now he was once again showing off his ability to wiggle out of predicaments.

"He gets out of trouble when he needs to," said Figgins, who had three of the Angels' 12 hits. "He made his pitches and ended up winning the ballgame."

In fact, after allowing 11 of the first 22 baserunners to reach, Silva retired seven of the last eight men he faced. He caught a few breaks along the way, however, like in the first inning when Figgins doubled home Erstad but was thrown out at third base trying to stretch it to a triple.

Orlando Cabrera's third homer of the season put the Angels on top, 2-0, in the second, and consecutive two-out hits by Figgins, Guerrero and Anderson stretched the lead to 4-1 in the third. On some nights, that would be enough, but not with the way the Twins' offense was nibbling away at Byrd.

"Paul still made his pitches," Scioscia said. "He just had a couple of hits fall in that kind of had eyes on them, and that was the game."

Patrick Donnelly is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.