Minnesota (58-56) at Los Angeles (66-47)

Sunny Currently: Anaheim, CA, US
Temp: 83° F
  • Game info: 10:05 pm EDT Fri Aug 10, 2007
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kelvim Escobar has pitched well in his last three starts, but he has nothing to show for it.

He hopes to avoid losing his fourth straight outing Friday night when the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels open a three-game set with the Minnesota Twins.

Escobar (11-6, 2.79 ERA), whose ERA ranks second in the league behind Oakland’s Dan Haren (2.46), has dropped three consecutive starts, despite pitching well with a 2.45 ERA. It’s his longest skid since he lost a career-high five straight from May 17-June 9, 2006.

The right-hander has been hampered by a lack of support from an offense that ranks fifth in the AL with 574 runs. It’s produced only two runs for Escobar in his last three outings, while he has held opponents to a .238 batting average.

“I think I’m pitching good enough to have more wins and more wins as a team,” Escobar told the team’s official Web site. “I’m a professional. We all want to do the job. Believe me, our hitters are trying hard. Sometimes we’re trying too hard, I think.”

Escobar did not help himself in his last trip to the mound Saturday, tying a career high with seven walks, while allowing two runs - one earned - and two hits in seven innings of a 2-1 loss at Oakland. He also dropped a potential inning-ending throw to first base for an error in the sixth that led to the unearned run.

“I don’t think there’s anything else I can do,” said Escobar, who is trying to win 12 games in a season for the first time since 2003 with Toronto. “I feel great. I felt one run would be enough for me. But I walked some guys, and that play at first, and that’s the game.”

In the four games since, the Angels (66-47) hit .321 and scored a total of 24 runs. They won three in a row before losing 9-6 to Boston in the finale of a three-game series Wednesday.

Escobar won his last meeting with Minnesota (58-56) on June 5, allowing three hits in his second complete game of the season in a 5-1 victory at Angel Stadium. Los Angeles took two of three in that series before the Twins did the same at home from July 20-22.

Minnesota gives Scott Baker (6-4, 4.43) another start opposite Escobar after he allowed five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings on June 5. That defeat dropped Baker to 0-4 with a 6.64 ERA in four starts versus the Angels.

The 25-year-old right-hander has been superb recently, winning his last two starts while allowing only one run and six hits in 16 innings. He scattered four hits in eight innings of a 1-0 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

“He’s been pitching great now, as of late,” Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer told the team’s official Web site. “He’s been throwing really well and he’s got confidence. That’s the key, when the guy on the mound has confidence, then they guys behind him have confidence in him. He’s been exuding that confidence over the last couple of starts.”

The Twins managed only four hits Thursday in a 1-0 loss at Kansas City, a day after getting 19 hits and beating the Royals 11-4.

“You shake your head and wonder what’s going on,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You score that many last night and come back today and can’t find a way to score one run. It’s disappointing.”

Minnesota has struggled on the road, winning only three of its last 11 games with a .248 batting average and .288 on-base percentage.

Angels third baseman Chone Figgins is 10-for-25 (.400) with seven runs scored against the Twins this season.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Baker LAD vs. K. Escobar MIL
9-9 Record 18-7
4.26 ERA 3.40
102 K 160
29 BB 66
1.33 WHIP 1.27


Friday, Aug 10