The wait goes on and on for No. 600

Pu­jols strikes out twice and grounds out twice as An­gels lose. He has had 15 chances since he hit No. 599 on Tues­day.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Pe­dro Moura pe­dro.moura@la­ Twit­ter: @pe­dro­moura

Un­til Al­bert Pu­jols hits his 600th ca­reer home run, the An­gels’ games will con­sist of an odd ca­dence. Ev­ery­thing is a buildup to the 37-year-old des­ig­nated hit­ter’s next plate ap­pear­ance. All else is su­per­flu­ous.

But such a struc­ture will more of­ten than not pro­duce noth­ing of note. On Fri­day night at An­gel Sta­dium, the as­sem­bled fans rose for Pu­jols’ chances four times, sat down with­out a word four times, and left un­happy as the An­gels lost a laugher, 11-5, to the Min­nesota Twins. Pu­jols pressed to give the crowd what it sought and struck out in his first two chances.

“His first cou­ple at-bats tonight, there is no doubt he was com­ing out of his swing,” An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia said.

Mean­while, JC Ramirez’s sea­son-long strug­gles in the first in­ning re­turned af­ter a one-game respite. Af­ter Rob­bie Gross­man’s one-out dou­ble, Ramirez threw a 3-and-1 fast­ball down the mid­dle and Joe Mauer lifted it 399 feet for a home run to left-cen­ter.

Ramirez en­coun­tered fur­ther trou­ble in the third in­ning, when Brian Dozier sin­gled and Gross­man launched a two-run homer to right field. Mauer lined out, but Miguel Sano sin­gled and Max Ke­pler drilled an­other two-run homer, to right.

Ramirez re­mained in the game for two more in­nings. He ex­ited in the fifth when a hitby-pitch and two sin­gles pro­duced the sev­enth run charged to him. He has made only 10 ma­jor league starts, but this was by far his worst. Twice he’d al­lowed five runs, but never more, and he had never failed to fin­ish five in­nings. His earned-run av­er­age rose from 3.38 to 4.11, though it re­mains the best of any An­gels start­ing pitcher this sea­son.

“They’re not all go­ing to be seven in­nings, two runs,” Ramirez said.

Yus­meiro Petit re­placed him and fin­ished the fifth and sixth with alacrity. De­o­lis Guerra en­tered for the sev­enth and per­mit­ted four runs on four sin­gles, a dou­ble and a wild pitch. Rookie Key­nan Mid­dle­ton picked up with two outs in the eighth and logged his eighth con­sec­u­tive score­less ap­pear­ance.

Mid­dle­ton is the only re­liever in the An­gels’ cur­rent bullpen who can be freely op­tioned to the mi­nor leagues, and the club may soon re­move one re­liever when Cam Be­drosian is ac­ti­vated. But Mid­dle­ton is ren­der­ing the prospect it will be him in­creas­ingly un­likely.

The An­gels (28-30) faced Twins right-han­der Kyle Gib­son, a sinker spe­cial­ist who took with him to the mound a ghastly 7.85 ERA. But it took the An­gels un­til the sixth to string to­gether their first rally. Eric Young Jr. led it off with a dou­ble, An­drel­ton Sim­mons walked, and Kole Cal­houn slapped a runs-scor­ing sin­gle to cen­ter field.

That set run­ners at the cor­ners for Pu­jols, but he grounded into a dou­ble play on the sec­ond pitch he saw, scor­ing a sec­ond run. Yunel Es­co­bar dou­bled to left, and Luis Val­buena’s walk elicited Gib­son’s exit, but Martin Mal­don­ado flied out against re­liever Alex Wim­mers, and the An­gels’ of­fense pro­duced lit­tle else un­til Danny Espinosa’s ninth-in­ning homer.

Pu­jols later grounded out in the eighth. He has come up empty in 15 chances to gen­er­ate his 600th home run.

It was, al­to­gether, a night the An­gels will want to for­get. Per­haps the only thing they will seek to re­mem­ber oc­curred be­fore the game, when their re­liever Blake Parker beat Twins re­serve in­fielder Ed­uardo Es­co­bar in an an­nual cow-milk­ing con­test be­hind home plate. Parker later pitched the ninth in­ning, when Es­co­bar pinch-hit and struck out against him.

Parker, who was raised in Arkansas but had never milked a cow, pre­pared by watching a YouTube video, wherein the host said every­one must ex­pe­ri­ence milk­ing once in their lives.

“This is my time to shine right here,” he thought.

Robert Gau­thier Los An­ge­les Times

TWINS PITCHER Kyle Gib­son, cov­er­ing third base, tags out the An­gels’ An­drel­ton Sim­mons, who tried to ad­vance in the first in­ning.

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