MINNEAPOLIS — It was exactly 1:57 p.m. Central Daylight Time when Garret Anderson's blast soared toward the far reaches of the Metrodome, the ball slipping through the hands of a fan in the right-field portion of the upper deck before falling back to the artificial turf.
Some might say the Angels' first home run in 14 games and 134 innings was about time.
With one third-inning swing, Anderson ended the second-longest power outage in franchise history and helped propel the Angels to a 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. The only drought longer was an 18-game stretch in 1976.
Even the typically grim Anderson cracked a smile on his way back to the dugout after a teammate called for the home-run ball, perhaps figuring it would make a nice memento. Was the ball headed to Cooperstown?
"I'll tell you what, it almost went there by itself," Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. "That ball was launched."
It was the first homer for the Angels since Mike Napoli hit one in the eighth inning against Baltimore on July 1 and the first for Anderson since he connected against St. Louis on June 9. And it was no big deal, according to Anderson.
"To be honest with you, it doesn't mean anything," Anderson said. "Nobody's going to remember it, nobody's going to care. It doesn't matter."
What mattered more to the Angels was a 13-hit attack that featured at least one hit from every starter and a stellar performance from left-hander Joe Saunders in his first outing as a replacement for the ineffective Ervin Santana.
Saunders limited the Twins to six hits and two runs in a season-high seven innings, helping the Angels end on a promising note a disappointing trip in which they were 2-4. And so a lead that stood at 2 1/2 games over Seattle in the American League West a week ago stands at two games today.
"It was nice to get back on track, nice to get a win," said Saunders, who struck out five and walked one. "You never want to get swept."
Minnesota pressured Saunders (4-0) only once, and he was able to minimize the damage. The Twins loaded the bases with three consecutive singles to open the third inning but scored only one run, on Jeff Cirillo's sacrifice fly, before Joe Mauer hit into an inning-ending double play.
The Angels scored a run in each of the first three innings against Minnesota starter Matt Garza (1-2), who had not given up an earned run in his previous 15 innings. Maicer Izturis drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, and Chone Figgins laced a run-scoring single to center in the second before Anderson homered in the third.
"What I liked was the pressure we put on them every inning," Scioscia said.
Figgins and Anderson are setting the pace for an offense that has emerged from its latest slump with 12 runs in two games. Figgins is batting .517 during an eight-game hitting streak, and Anderson has hit safely in six consecutive games and 11 of 12.
"I'm not quite where I want to be, but I'm starting to put together some good at-bats and give myself a chance to put the ball in play with good, solid swings," said Anderson, who has made two trips to the disabled list this season because of a bothersome right hip. "I've been able to recognize pitches a little bit better. It's starting to get there."