Max Kepler's leadoff home run traveled 390 feet, and Brent Rooker's blast on the next pitch soared even further, 436 feet. And after that? The Twins went absolutely nowhere.
Jaime Barria and two Angels relievers shook off the worst possible start and limited the Twins to two singles over the rest of Sunday's game, Shohei Ohtani crushed a tiebreaking home run onto the right-field plaza, and the Angels inflicted a third loss in four days, 6-2 at Target Field.
There were scattered boos from the announced crowd of 23,158 during the Twins' 100th game and 58th loss, a few for a Miguel Sano strikeout here, a couple for a Willians Astudillo popup there. But the most vociferous booing by far rained down when Rocco Baldelli ordered Ohtani intentionally walked in his final plate appearance, perhaps reflecting a little bloodlust by fans wanting to see baseball's biggest lion devour their meek-as-lambs team one more time.
Or maybe they were just thirsty for action after an afternoon of indolence by the home team.
"I don't think I have" ever seen home fans boo a strategy like that, Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "I was booing too, but it was the right move by Rocco."
Maybe so, but the game sure felt out of reach by that time, given the Twins' toothless, Nelson Cruz-less batting order. Four starters on Sunday own batting averages below .200 and two more are at .220 for the season, and the game reflected that level of proficiency. After the back-to-back home runs to start matters, no Twins batter ever advanced as far as second base again — this coming a day after they were no-hit into the ninth inning by Los Angeles lefthander Patrick Sandoval.
"We have a lineup out there, a lot of young players again," Baldelli said as his team solidified its hold on last place. "This is a winnable game. We got beat. We got outplayed."
Barria, a 25-year-old righthander who had given up seven runs in six innings in his two previous appearances for the Angels this year, pitched seven mostly spotless innings while striking out four, though Baldelli didn't sound particularly impressed, not with the way the Twins failed to attack him.
"We probably lost a little focus as the game went on in the middle innings and didn't have the kind of at-bats that we aspire to," Baldelli said. "[Barria] is a guy that's going to pitch to contact, pitch in the [strike] zone. He's not going to beat you in one particular way, he's just going to mix things up and attack you and make you hit the ball and make you hit the ball hard. We didn't do that."
That's nothing new: Angels pitching held the Twins to 10 runs in the four-game series, and gave up only 12 hits in their three victories.
Bailey Ober started for the Twins and enjoyed one of his best starts yet, giving up only three hits in 5⅓ innings. One of the hits was an RBI triple to Angels catcher Max Stassi, and one was Stassi's eighth home run of the season, so Ober left with the score tied 2-2 in the sixth.
The tie lasted two pitches from lefthander Danny Coulombe. One was a ball, the other a slider in the middle of the strike zone, which Ohtani rocketed over the seats in right field, his MLB-leading 35th homer of the season.
"I'd have liked to face him three times and see what I can do. Maybe get another strikeout," said Ober, who struck out Ohtani in the third inning on a curveball in the dirt. "That was pretty cool," he said of the strikeout. "But we bring in Danny, a lefty/lefty situation, and it just happens he's the hottest hitter right now and hit one out."
The Angels tacked on three runs in the ninth off Jorge Alcala, but the inning ended with Ohtani, who was 4-for-11 in the series, on deck. Probably for the best.
"He's a great player. I have no doubt he's going to be a thorn in the side of teams that face [him]," Baldelli said, a group that no longer includes the Twins. "I'm glad we're done facing Ohtani this year."