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Wilson, Aybar lead Angels to 5-1 win over Twins

Left-hander's debut includes four walks but three double plays prevent any damage. Aybar makes a rally-killing diving catch to start another double play in the ninth inning.

April 09, 2012|By Mike DiGiovanna

MINNEAPOLIS -- C.J. Wilson battled the elements -- a game-time temperature of 45 degrees with wind gusts up to 31 mph -- and some control problems to notch his first victory as an Angel, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings of a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Twins in Target Field.

Wilson, the occasionally wild left-hander, walked four in the first five innings Monday, but none of those he issued free passes to came around to score.

The only run Wilson allowed was a fourth-inning homer by Josh Willingham. The Angels made the most of six hits, and their three double plays, including a superb one started by shortstop Erick Aybar in the ninth, helped make the Angels' debut of Wilson a success.

Wilson, who signed a five-year, $77.5-million deal with the Angels in the off-season, had walked only three batters in 24 1/3 innings of six spring starts.

The Twins, facing Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen in the ninth inning, put the first two runners on, and Ryan Doumit ripped a line drive that appeared headed to center field for a hit.

But Aybar dove toward the middle and snagged the ball a few inches off the ground for one out and flipped to second baseman Howie Kendrick for a double play. Jepsen got Danny Valencia to ground to short, ending the game.

The Angels strung together three two-out hits for two runs in the first, but the rally would not have been possible had Aybar not taken out Twins second baseman Alexi Casilla with a hard slide on Albert Pujols' potential inning-ending double-play grounder to third.

That extended the inning for Kendrys Morales, who singled to center, Torii Hunter, who hit a run-scoring single to left-center, and Bobby Abreu, who sliced an RBI double to left for a 2-0 lead.

Josh Willingham cut the lead in half with a home run to left-center field in the fourth inning, and he nearly tied the score in the sixth when his long fly ball sailed just to the left of the foul pole in left field.

But Wilson got Willingham to ground to Kendrick, who ranged far to his right for the ball and made an accurate off-balance, one-hop throw to first base to end the inning.

The Angels tagged Twins starter Nick Blackburn for three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Abreu walked to open the inning and took second on Alberto Callaspo’s infield single. Up stepped Chris Iannetta in what appeared to be a bunt situation, but Manager Mike Scioscia let the catcher swing away, and Iannetta ripped a two-run double to the gap in left-center field for a 4-1 lead.

Iannetta took third on Peter Bourjos’ groundout and scored to make it 5-1 on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Aybar, whose failure to get a bunt down in a similar situation four years ago cost the Angels a chance to beat the Boston Red Sox in the 2008 American League division series.


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