Rookie Grant Balfour will be rewarded for his excellent work out of the bullpen by getting his first career start when the Minnesota Twins wrap up a three-game series with the Anaheim Angels at Edison Field.
Balfour has allowed just three runs and six hits in 16 1-3 innings spanning eight relief appearances for the Twins this season. The 25-year-old right-hander from Sydney, Australia, has struck out 21 while walking nine.
Since being recalled for the second time on Aug. 19, he has pitched eight scoreless innings in four appearances out of the bullpen, earning his first career win in an 8-5 triumph at Texas on Friday.
The defending AL Central champions moved within one game of the Chicago White Sox for the division lead with Tuesday’s 12-6 rout of the Angels. Rookie Michael Ryan hit a three-run homer and Cristian Guzman added a bases-clearing triple as Minnesota won for the sixth time in nine games.
Minnesota, which lost the AL championship series to Anaheim in five games last October, had dropped seven straight to the Angels before taking two of three at Edison Field and splitting the first two games of this series.
Shawn Wooten drove in a pair of runs for Anaheim, which had a three-game winning streak snapped.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 15 GB, AL West. Twins - 2nd place, 1 GB, AL Central.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Ramon Ortiz (15-11, 4.78 ERA). Ortiz had won consecutive starts before yielding five runs—three earned—and six hits over seven innings in Thursday’s 6-1 loss to Minnesota at Edison Field. The right-hander struck out three and walked one, failing in his first bid for a career-high 16th win. Ortiz went a career-best 15-9 last season. He is 2-3 with a 4.93 ERA in seven career starts against the Twins.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Balfour (1-0, 1.65 ERA). Balfour made two relief appearances for the Twins last year, yielding four runs and three hits over 2 2-3 innings. He yielded a run in an inning of relief in Minnesota’s 6-1 loss at Anaheim on July 12.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Garret Anderson, .322 avg., 29 HRs and 113 RBIs; Anderson and Tim Salmon, 71 runs; Adam Kennedy, 18 SBs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .307 avg.; Torii Hunter, 23 HRs and 87 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 77 runs; Luis Rivas and Guzman, 14 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Angels, 5-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - The Angels called up OF Barry Wesson from Triple-A Salt Lake on Tuesday. … OF Darin Erstad, who has battled a hamstring injury all year long and began a second stint on the disabled list Aug. 9, did some running before Tuesday’s game. He’ll be evaluated again when the team returns home this weekend to play Kansas City. … RHP Ortiz is 7-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 13 road starts this year. Twins - Newly acquired LHP Jesse Orosco made his Minnesota debut in the ninth inning Tuesday, allowing two hits. … 1B Doug Mientkiewicz, who sat out for the second straight game Tuesday, had his sore wrist examined by a hand specialist. Mientkiewicz, who plans to have surgery in the offseason, probably won’t play until the weekend. .. SS Guzman returned to the lineup Tuesday after twisting his back on Saturday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels - 29-40 on the road; Twins - 36-33 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - SS David Eckstein (hamstring), 15-day DL; 3B Troy Glaus (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Erstad (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL; 1B-DH Brad Fullmer (knee), 60-day DL. Twins - RHP Rick Reed (back), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL.