The Angels look for a second straight victory over the Twins to salvage a split in the four-game set between division leaders Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium.
After being outscored 11-1 in the first two games of this potential AL playoff series preview, Los Angeles (78-50) scored six runs in the first four innings and held on for a 7-5 win Saturday night.
It was just the third win in 10 games for the Angels, who must guard against complacency with a very comfortable 16-game lead in the AL West.
“For us, our challenge comes every night and that’s what we focus on,” manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels’ official Web site. “It’s as simple as that. I think we’ll be fine.”
Minnesota (74-55), meanwhile, had its four-game winning streak snapped and still holds a one-half game lead in the Central over the Chicago White Sox, who lost to Tampa Bay earlier Saturday. The Twins, 2-1 on their season-high 14-game road trip, lost for the second time in 10 overall contests.
“(The Twins) have always been a competitive team,” said Los Angeles’ Chone Figgins, who went 3-for-5 on Saturday and is batting .393 (11-for-28) against the Twins this season. “They are going to be a battle for you every time you play them.”
Mark Teixeira went 3-for-3 with his a homer and two RBIs and is hitting .367 (29-for-79) with six home runs and 19 RBIs in 22 games since being traded to Los Angeles from Atlanta.
All-Star Justin Morneau went 0-for-4 and has one hit in his last 31 at-bats against the Angels dating to last season. He needs just one RBI, though, to join Harmon Killebrew as the only players in Twins history with 100 RBIs in three consecutive seasons.
Morneau is 1-for-8 lifetime against Los Angeles’ Sunday starter Ervin Santana (13-5, 3.39 ERA), who has failed to earn a decision in his last two starts, but is looking for a third straight winning decision.
Santana, who allowed one run and four hits in seven innings of a 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, is 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA in four career starts against the Twins. He gave up two runs in six innings of a 5-4 victory at Minnesota on April 3.
The right-hander matched up with Minnesota’s Kevin Slowey (10-8, 3.78) in that contest. Slowey allowed three runs in 3 1-3 innings and is 1-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two career starts versus the Angels.
Slowey, though, has been much better since dropping his first four starts off the season. The right-hander will try for a fourth consecutive victory after allowing one earned run and five hits while striking out a career-high 12 in seven innings of a 13-2 win over Oakland on Tuesday.
“I’d love to throw it 96 or 97, but I definitely don’t,” said Slowey, who is 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in his last three starts. “But the Twins are huge proponents of location over velocity and I’m always making a big point of that.”