Minnesota Twins Look for Turnaround Against Angels

Duane WinnCorrespondent IApril 17, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 6: Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire sends Jesse Crain #28 of the Minnesota Twins to the showers during a game against the Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome on April 6, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Scott A. Schneider/Getty Images)

It's official.

The Minnesota Twins are in a freefall.

After splitting a season-opening series with the Seattle Mariners, the Twins proceeded to drop the rubber match of a three-game road series against the White Sox.

They then dropped three of four games against the visiting Blue Jays. Only a clutch hit by Joe Crede in the 11th inning Wednesday saved them from being swept by the invaders from the North.

The Twins (4-7) will open a three-game set in the Metrodome Friday against a team that's having just as many problems they are.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were the consensus preseason pick to capture the American League West Division. Following Thursday's win against the division-leading Mariners (7-3), the Angels are 4-5.

The Angles' expectations have been short-circuited by tragedy (the death of 22-year-old starter Nick Adenhart) and misfortune (injuries to pitchers Ervin Santana, Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey).

The Twins, who were chosen in several circles to win their division, have suffered largely from self-inflicted wounds.

The Twins have labored mightily in the first 11 games to make contact at the plate. Six Twins are hitting below .236, including Joe Crede (.182 BA, 0 HR, 2 RBI), Delmon Young (.148), and Carlos Gomez (.103 BA, .133 OBP), all obtained by the Twins within the past 18 months to shore up their offense.

The only Twins hitters who have been unfazed by the team's collective malaise are Justin Morneau, who is hitting .341 with a team-high eight RBI, and leadoff hitter Denard Span, who is averaging .293 and a team-high .408 OBP.

Thus far, the Twins are hitting .241. They have scored 39 runs.  

They have already been shut out twice and scored two or fewer runs on four other occasions.

The Metrodome, where the Twins have played all but three of their games, has seen its share of fireworks this season, courtesy of a pitching staff that has allowed opponents 69 runs.

The Blue Jays smacked the Twins around for 56 hits and 31 hits in the four-game set that concluded Thursday.

The Angels, who have tried to concentrate on-field matters the best they can in the wake of their teammate's death, showed signs of life Thursday against the Mariners as run-scoring singles by Mike Napoli, Gary Matthews Jr., Juan Rivera, and Maicer Izturis sparked them to victory. They had lost the previous two games to Seattle.

Bobby Abreu (.342 BA) and former Twin Torii Hunter (.310, 3 HR, 5 RBI) pace the Angels, while a longtime staple of their attack, Vladimir Guerrero, is only hitting .250 as he struggles with a sore shoulder and a muscle injury in his chest that limits him to duty as a designated hitter.

The Twins will start Nick Blackburn, who is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in his two 2009 starts. Blackburn was charged with the loss on Sunday in Chicago, where the White Sox reached him for four runs and six hits in six innings.

The Angels will counter with Dustin Moseley, who defeated the Boston Red Sox in his first start on Apr. 8, holding them to two earned runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is 1-0 with a 3.86 earned run average on the year.


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