Josh Hamilton can’t hack it in first game in weeks

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Making his first appearance since Sept. 16 — and just his second since Sept. 4 — Josh Hamilton, returning from shoulder, chest and rib cage injuries, went 0-for-5 in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Royals, four times getting retired by left-handed pitchers. He popped up to third base to end the game in the 11th.

In both the seventh and ninth innings, the Angels worked to set things up for Hamilton; the leadoff man got on and Erick Aybar bunted him over both times, even though there was a left-handed pitcher on the mound. In the seventh, Hamilton hit a routine grounder off rookie Brandon Finnegan. In the ninth, he struck out in a poor at-bat versus Tim Collins.

Manager Mike Scioscia was due to face questions afterwards whether starting Hamilton was the right call. This was actually a pretty good matchup for Hamilton, though; not only did he hit .330 in 91 at-bats against lefties during the regular season, but he had three career homers in 27 at-bats against Royals starter Jason Vargas (albeit with a .222 average). If Hamilton was going to play during the series, then there was no reason not to use him tonight.

Tonight was the lesser question, though. The bigger one is whether Hamilton should be playing at all. We’ll get a better read on that Friday when he faces flamethrowing Yordano Ventura. If Hamilton is overmatched, the Angels should strongly consider trying something different in left field in Game 3, which would probably mean playing Efren Navarro.

Report: Twins, Michael Pineda agree to two-year, $20 million contract

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Pierre Noujaim of Fox9 Minneapolis reports that the Twins and free agent starter Michael Pineda have agreed on a two-year contract. The Athletic’s Dan Hayes confirms Noujaim’s report and adds that the deal is for $20 million.

Pineda, 30, signed with the Twins in December 2017 while he was in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2018 season but began the 2019 season on time. Pineda went on to post a 4.01 ERA with 140 strikeouts and 28 walks across 146 innings. He was suspended 60 games in early September after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. There are 39 games remaining, so he won’t make his season debut next year until mid-May.

Pineda will rejoin a Twins rotation that features José Berríos and Jake Odorizzi. The Twins are likely not done hunting for rotation help.