Series Preview: Angels at Twins, April 9-13


Welcome home, Twins. That series in Baltimore was an abomination, so let’s forget about it. It’s time to take on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Matchups:

Monday, April 9: Nick Blackburn vs. C.J. Wilson, 3:10 p.m. CDT

Wednesday, April 11: Carl Pavano vs. Jered Weaver, 7:10 p.m.CDT

Thursday, April 12: Francisco Liriano vs. Dan Haren, 12:10 p.m. CDT

MLB does some odd things with the scheduling in early April, presumably just to test if we’re actually paying attention. Don’t try to tune in on Tuesday, because there is a rare off-day in the middle of a series. And if you work today, you’re going to have to check the scores while your boss is not looking, because we have a Monday day game.

If it weren’t the Home Opener, today would be a great day to give Joe Mauer off: he has hit just .053 (1 for 21) against Wilson! Josh Willingham, on the other hand, has hit .389 with a homer in 18 at bats. The Twins should fare pretty well against Haren, though. The current roster has a line of .329/.360/.496 against him. Bobby Abreu owns Blackburn with a 1.259 OPS in 21 plate appearances. In 13 PAs against the Twins sinkerballer, Torii Hunter‘s OPS is even better at 1.308.

The Weather:

The weather will be noticeably colder than it was in Baltimore. Today’s high in Minneapolis won’t quite touch 50 degrees, so even with the daytime start, it will be a bit chilly for baseball. The weather warms up throughout the week; Wednesday’s high should be about 57, though it will probably cool off by the 7:10 p.m. start. Thursday will have a high around 62. It should be sunny for the first two games, but clouds might creep in by Thursday.

The Head to Head:

The Minnesota Twins were born the same year as the Angels. 1961 was the Twins’ first year in Minnesota after 60 in Washington, and it was the first year of existence for the then Los Angeles Angels. Since then, the Angels have displayed a shaky knowledge of geography by becoming the California Angels, the Anaheim Angels, and now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but the rivalry has persevered.

The Twins have won 323 of 670 matchups between these teams, and the Angels have won 347, so the Twins need to start a 24 game winning streak today if they want to even it out. In Minnesota, the Twins are 161-174 versus Southern California’s AL franchise. Last year the Angels dominated the Twins, taking six of nine games.

The Story:

The Twins were embarrassed in Baltimore. In three games the Orioles, who are not known for their outstanding pitching (or even for competent pitching), held the Twins to just five runs. The good news is that they get to play at home this week, which is always a psychological boost. The bad news is they are playing a much better team. Minnesota never appeared to be in the game this weekend, even during the few innings where the score was relatively close. They need to play at a much higher level in order to compete with the Angels. It would be a good start if they could score in the early innings to take a little pressure off the pitching staff.

While the Twins were flailing away in Baltimore, the Angels managed to lose their first series of the year as well. Los Angeles defeated Kansas City 5-0 in the Home Opener, but the Royals came back to win on Saturday and Sunday. Weaver was masterful in his first outing, delivering eight innings and 10 strikeouts. On the other hand, Haren gave up 11 hits in five and a third in his first start. Albert Pujols, perhaps the most prized free agent ever, had a fairly quiet Opening weekend, with three hits in 10 at bats.

Facing the high-octane Angels in the season’s first week seems like a tall order for the Twins, but it might be a blessing. The Angels may not be hitting on all cylinders right now, which may provide an opportunity for the Twins – if they can manage to keep their own problems at bay.