Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia is concerned about a road series against the Minnesota Twins since his club doesn’t play on artificial turf often. The surface could be even more of a factor with Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn(notes) on the mound.
Blackburn looks to win his eighth straight home decision Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Angels.
This will be Los Angeles’ final visit to the Metrodome, where it was swept in a three-game set April 17-19. The AL West-leading Angels (60-40) are 3-6 on turf this year.
“You really just want to get used to the field to get a feel for it, and turf is the extreme,” Scioscia told the Angels’ official Web site. “We don’t play much on it.”
Former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter(notes), who is on the disabled list with a strained adductor muscle, is unlikely to return this weekend. Scioscia wants to be careful with Hunter and left fielder Juan Rivera(notes), coming off a recent hamstring injury, on the turf.
Los Angeles took three of four from Minnesota last weekend, beating Blackburn (8-5, 3.75 ERA) in an 11-5 win Saturday. The right-hander retired his first nine hitters before recording two outs and allowing six runs as he was chased in a nine-run fourth inning.
Blackburn, however, is a different pitcher in the Metrodome, going 13-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 22 starts - 5-0 with a 2.67 ERA this year. He is 7-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his last 10 home outings and 6-0 with a 2.70 ERA in nine starts on turf in 2009.
The Twins (52-50) are seeking a season-high fifth straight win after sweeping three games from the Chicago White Sox to move into second place in the AL Central. Minnesota trails first-place Detroit by two games.
A 16 game-winner and an All-Star last year, Santana fell to 2-2 with a 4.72 ERA in six career outings versus Minnesota. He felt he was victimized by some bad luck.
“I made good pitches, and they still just hit the ball, like a blooper or a ground ball,” Santana said. “I think I pitched better than (the statistics). … I don’t know about the gun, but I feel like (the ball) is coming out of my hand better.”
Santana has missed significant time this season with a sprained elbow ligament and an inflamed triceps. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA in five road starts compared to 0-4 with a 12.38 ERA in six outings in Anaheim.
Since July 1, Cabrera has batted .373 with eight doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs in 110 at-bats. He’s a two-time Gold Glove winner, in 2001 and 2007, who has a career .274 average.