ANAHEIM — For the majority of Sunday’s game against the Angels, Pablo López went toe to toe with Shohei Ohtani. And as the starting pitchers have done so frequently this season, he put the Twins in position to win.

But throughout a tough road trip through Southern California, the cracks that led to the Twins’ struggles in 2022 and early inconsistency this season continued to resurface, with challenges in situational hitting and high-leverage relief situations contributing to all four of their losses to the Dodgers and Angels in a 2-4 road trip capped by a 4-2 loss at Angel Stadium.

“A play each game deciding the game could have won a vast majority of these games, if not all of them,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We were in every single ballgame and we had our chances. We need to do better with all of these chances.”

That seems to have been a common refrain in most of Minnesota’s losses this season, with its continued penchant for playing close games magnifying those issues and causing them to swing games. Here are three of the problems that plagued the Twins on this road trip — and what they can do.

Bases loaded
The Twins’ baffling struggles with the bases loaded have gotten to the point where Baldelli brought them up, unprompted, following their series-finale loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday, when they loaded the bases with none out in a tie game in the sixth and couldn’t push a run across.

“The bases-loaded thing, I don’t have an answer for the bases-loaded conversation, for anyone thinking about asking that question,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think anyone does.”

It flared up again on Sunday. Ohtani was pulled from a 1-1 game after allowing two hits in six innings, and the Twins immediately loaded the bases with one out in the seventh. Reyes Moronta struck out Ryan Jeffers on a pitch that appeared off the plate — and Chris Devenski whiffed Joey Gallo to end the threat.

The Angels swung the momentum on Mickey Moniak’s two-run double in the bottom of the frame.

The Twins are 5-for-43 (.116) with no extra-base hits with the bases loaded this season, which is even less explicable considering they have an .871 OPS with men in scoring position, third best in the Majors.

“We’ve got to try to maybe have a simpler approach with people on base and try to back up the baseball a little better, go the other way, just take a single instead of trying to do a lot of damage,” Carlos Correa said.

The Twins were tied or led in the seventh inning or later in all four losses on this road trip, and there was no single culprit, as the team’s entire high-leverage corps — Jhoan Duran, Jorge López and Griffin Jax — all got hit at various points, in addition to the grand slam allowed by Emilio Pagán late Wednesday.

On Sunday, the tough outing came from Jorge López, who allowed back-to-back doubles in relief of Pablo López, including the two-run knock by Moniak. Jorge López also walked in the walk-off run in the 12th inning on Monday against the Dodgers.

“Still angry about it,” Jorge López said. “It’s my job to fix that. It was a really good game that Pablo was going through. I couldn’t do the job.”

Part of fixing this will simply be getting healthy, as the injured Caleb Thielbar occupied a key position, and the bullpen has been stretched even more due to Jax’s recent struggles. Brock Stewart’s emergence should help, and Jovani Moran has gained experience in high-leverage spots — but the Twins simply need Jorge López and Jax to pitch through it until they’re in position to make additions at the Trade Deadline.