Series Preview: Angels at Twins, May 7-9


After a 1-5 road trip, the Twins do not get a chance to lick their wounds. Instead, they return home to face the same Angel team that utterly humiliated them a week ago.

The Matchups:

Monday, May 7, 7:10 p.m. CDT: LHP Francisco Liriano vs. RHP Jered Weaver

Tuesday, May 8, 7:10 p.m. CDT: TBA vs. RHP Dan Haren

Wednesday, May 9, 7:10 p.m. CDT: RHP Carl Pavano vs. RHP Ervin Santana

If there was ever a pitching equivalent of the famed Murderer’s Row, the Twins might be staring at it now. In any given year, Weaver, Haren, and Santana are all threats to earn Cy Young votes. Weaver in particular should be a challenge for the Twins; he no-hit them last Wednesday, and now he’ll be looking to pull a full-on Johnny VanderMeer against them.

Liriano returned to the starting rotation with his job on the line last week, and his performance against the Angels was inconclusive, so he’ll get yet another chance. The Tuesday starter has not been announced, but it may be Scott Diamond, who was called up to replace rookie Liam Hendriks. Diamond would be going on three days’ rest, since he started for Rochester Friday night, but he was pulled from that game after just three innings with this callup in mind.

If there’s any game in this series the Twins are likely to win, it is Wednesday’s. Santana has been struggling this season with an 0-6 record and an uncharacteristic 5.57 ERA. Conversely, Pavano has been the only somewhat reliable starter for the Twins this year.

The Weather:

Highs will be in the low to mid 60s all three days, with Tuesday being the coolest day. Tuesday is also the day it’s most likely to rain (70% chance), with evening thunderstorms a real possibility. That could help the Twins, though. If they had a doubleheader on Wednesday instead, Diamond would be able to pitch on full rest.

The Head to Head:

Last week’s sweep puts the Twins at 323-351 all time against the Angels. Despite that sweep, Minnesota still has a chance to win the season series. All they need to do is win all three. After Wednesday, Minnesota and Los Angeles will not meet again in 2012, barring the exceptionally unlikely chance that they could face each other in the playoffs.

The Story:

This time last week, the Twins were fourth in the AL with a .263 team average, but that stream ran dry on the West Coast. A nasty road trip sapped the Twins’ team average, and they’re now fourth worst in the league (.239). They are second to last in OPS at .658. The pitching is still awful, with a team ERA of 5.69. At this point, the Twins are just playing for pride.

Meanwhile, the Angels are clawing their way back toward respectability. Since hitting bottom at 6-14, the Angels are keeping their heads above water, and the record is now up to 12-17. There is still a long way to go, but with this pitching staff, nobody can afford to ignore the Angels. Another encouraging sign: Albert Pujols finally swatted his first home run for his new team. He could be ready to go on a tear, which would be more bad news for the Twins.

The Bottom Line:

Monday’s game has all the makings of a bloodbath, but Wednesday’s is a favorable matchup for the Twins. The winner of the series will probably be whichever team prevails on Tuesday.