Minnesota Twins vs Los Angeles Angels: Weekend Series Preview

Apr 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels players celebrate the win against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. The Los Angeles Angels defeat the Oakland Athletics 5 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels players celebrate the win against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. The Los Angeles Angels defeat the Oakland Athletics 5 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Try to Shrug off Losses in Series Against Angels

The Twins are still looking for their first win of the 2016 season. I’m sure manager Paul Molitor has asked anyone and everyone if they remember where they left it last. Yes, all we have left is humor to describe the Twins’ season so far, as they come into this weekend’s series 0-9. In their latest series sweep, this time by the Chicago White Sox, the Twins never even had to face Sox ace Chris Sale.

They will be facing a team on a streak of their own, albeit a winning one. The LA Angels are winners of their last four games, coming off a sweep of Oakland, in Oakland. That modest streak has pushed the Angels overall mark above .500 to 5-4.

Mike Trout looks to have hit his way out of a slow start, going 3-3 in his last game, while scoring 3 runs to up his batting average to .250 and swinging at a .748 OPS clip – still 200 points lower than his career average. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer remained the lone bright spot for Twins’ hitters, getting his first triple and scoring the lone run in Thursday’s 3-1 loss. Mauer is hitting .387 and swinging like his 2009 MVP season.

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The frustrating start for the Twins is centered not on their pitching, but their hitters. In this past series against the White Sox, the Twins allowed 3, 3, & 4 runs, yet only scored a total of two runs in the three games.

They are last in the league in runs (14 total in 9 games) and need a breakout game from top to bottom to lift everyone’s spirits. Every team gets 7 or 8 of those games in a season, and the first one would be welcomed with open arms this weekend by beleaguered hitting coach, Tom Brunansky.

Friday Night Game

Garrett Richard (0-2, 3.86 ERA) vs Tommy Milone (0-1, 3.86 ERA)

7:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Saturday Day Game

Jered Weaver (1-0, 1.50 ERA) vs Ricky Nolasco (0-0, 1.29 ERA)

1:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Sunday Day Game

Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (0-2, 4.22 ERA)

1:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Los Angeles: The Angels have won 12 out of the last 14 games against the Minnesota Twins, including 7 of the 8 games at Target Field last year. They have righted the ship after getting blown out by the Cubs to open the season, getting out-scored 15-1 in a two game series. Their current four game winning streak comes despite somehow only hitting 3 home runs in its first 9 games, one less than the anemic Twins squad.

Offense: Led by their dynamic duo of Trout and future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols. Both players are coming off 40+ HRs  years, though both struggled for most of the first half in 2015 average-wise. Kole Calhoun is trying to make the duo a trio, breaking out in 2015 with 26 HRs and 83 RBI.

Player(s) to Watch: 2014 MVP, Mike Trout. Trout bats a lifetime .310 against current Twins pitchers with a 1.045 OPS. Against starters scheduled to face Trout this series, lefty Tommy Milone has the best numbers against him (.238 avg). Meanwhile, Albert Pujols has feasted on Ricky Nolasco in his career, hitting .520 with a 1.580 OPS in 25 at bats.

Pitching: After the clock-cleaning opening series, the Angels starters have settled down, getting 4 quality starts in their last 7 games. Garrett Richards has lacked run support, getting provided only 1 run by the Angels offense in his 11.2 innings pitched. Closer Huston Street picked up the Angels first win and scored 3 consecutive saves in the first 3 games of their winning streak this week.

Pitcher to Watch: Jered Weaver. 9-2 lifetime versus the Twins. Twins have hit an alarming .202 against Weaver in 16 career games.

Twins: Molitor juggled Thursday’s lineup, and will have to do more as Buxton looks to miss a few games with a left hand contusion. Strangely, Molitor has not started Eduardo Nunez, who last did so in the Sunday finale against the Royals, going 4-4. He pinch-hit in Monday’s home opener. Nunez has hit .289 against current Angels pitchers.

Look for Nunez to possibly replace struggling Trevor Plouffe (.161 avg) for a game at third base, who hasn’t fared so well against these Angels pitchers (.200 avg). Then again, nearly all Twins hitters, save for Mauer and Escobar, are struggling against everybody this year. Those two have 23 of the Twins 55 total hits for the year. The drop-off is severe. After Escobar’s .324 avg (3rd on team), Eddie Rosario is next on the team, hitting a buck sixty seven.

Next: 2016 Puckett's Staff Predictions

Notes: While the Twins are last in the league in runs, the Astros now lead the league in strikeouts, with 93 (5 more than the Twins), including 34 in their past three games against the Royals. The Twins have kept it under double digits their past 3 games, hopefully a trend that bears fruit on the scoreboard this weekend.