The Minnesota Twins were feeling a lot better about themselves after the opener of their three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels. On Saturday, they’ll try to stay hot at the plate as they continue the set at the Metrodome.
The Twins (50-46) opened the second half of the season with a four-game sweep of Oakland, but were then swept in three games by Detroit, scoring only five runs in the series. They bounced back nicely Friday, however, earning a 7-5 victory over the first-place Angels (56-39).
“I think everybody probably left here a little bit down after yesterday’s game, but I think coming in today we know that one series isn’t going to kill us,” said closer Joe Nathan, who earned the save Friday after taking the loss in Thursday’s 4-3, 10-inning defeat to the Tigers. “It’s still July. We’ve still got a long way to go.”
The Twins scored three times in the first inning and four times in the third against Angels ace John Lackey, finishing with 12 hits in the game. They had failed to score more than four runs in any of their previous five contests.
“Nice to shake hands again. We needed that, obviously,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Angels managed at least five runs for just the second time in nine games, and they could use a similar offensive performance Saturday. They have not homered in the last 13 contests, and the offensive drought has contributed to their AL West lead being cut to one game over Seattle - the smallest it’s been since May 15.
“I don’t know if anyone thought we were going to stay as hot as we were for a few months,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “But we don’t expect guys to have downturns right now. These guys are too good not to come back.”
Saturday’s pitching matchup seems to bode well for the Angels’ hitters. The last time Los Angeles’ Jered Weaver (6-5, 3.36 ERA) faced Minnesota’s Boof Bonser (5-6, 4.68 ERA) on June 4, Weaver allowed one run in seven innings of a 16-3 win.
Making his first start against the Angels in that game, Bonser was pounded for six runs and a career-high 12 hits as Los Angeles scored its most runs since getting 21 against Kansas City on Aug. 25, 2004. The Angels pounded out 23 hits, their highest total since May 10, 2002, when they had 24 against the Chicago White Sox.
That outing, Weaver’s first against the Twins, began a six-start stretch during which he has gone 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA. He allowed only two unearned runs in seven innings of Los Angeles’ 11-inning, 5-4 defeat to Texas on Sunday.
Bonser has not won since June 10 against Washington, going 0-4 in six starts since. He has turned in a quality start in each of his last two outings, however, and allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings of Minnesota’s 4-3 victory over Oakland on Sunday.
“It’s all about getting better as you go on throughout the course of the year, and Boof’s definitely making strides,” Gardenhire told the Twins’ official Web site. “We’ve seen it the last couple of times he gets ahead in the count, he uses all his pitches and gets back up on the mound and gets the guys back off the field.”