Angels-Twins Preview

The Associated Press

After picking up their first win of the season, the Minnesota Twins know they have a lot more work to do - especially after learning they'll be without one of their starting pitchers for the season.

The Twins and Los Angeles Angels conclude a three-game series Thursday at Target Field.

It's been a tough start to the season for Minnesota, which lost 99 games and finished last in the AL Central in 2011. The Twins (1-4) were the only winless team in the majors before rallying for a 6-5 win over the Angels (2-3) on Wednesday.

"It's nice to finish on top for a change,'' said Matt Capps, who earned his first save. "0-4 to start the season is never fun, but nobody in here is going to panic or throw in the towel or anything like that."

Jamey Carroll recorded his first two hits with Minnesota while Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer - his second in as many days and third this season.

After scoring six runs and batting .165 over their first four games, the Twins finished with a season-high nine hits Wednesday.

Minnesota hopes it can see more of that from its lineup, particularly with a shaky situation in the rotation. The team announced Wednesday that right-hander Scott Baker will undergo season-ending elbow surgery.

Baker began the year on the disabled list, but was expected to come off it soon. He went 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 2011.

"We've got to move on," general manager Terry Ryan said. "And unfortunately this will be a challenge, but we'll get through it.''

While not much was expected of the Twins even before that bad news, the same cannot be said of the Angels (2-3), who are having issues with their rotation.

Jered Weaver gave up five runs in six innings Wednesday - the third time a starter has given up at least five runs. Los Angeles' starting staff is 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

Both of Thursday's starters are hoping for better performances after disappointing season debuts.

Los Angeles' Dan Haren gave up five runs and two homers in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss to Kansas City last Saturday.

"I didn't make too many quality pitches, and that's a recipe for disaster," Haren said. "I threw too many pitches up in the zone and wasn't really controlling the count too well."

The right-hander will try to bounce back against the Twins. He won both starts against them last year, surrendering four runs in 14 innings to improve to 4-3 with a 3.29 ERA in his career versus Minnesota.

Willingham is 4 for 11 with two homers and a double against Haren.

Francisco Liriano had an even tougher outing in his first start. He surrendered six runs in four innings of an 8-2 loss at Baltimore on Saturday.

However, the left-hander hasn't been any more effective against the Angels during his career, going 1-2 with a 7.27 ERA in four appearances. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings of a 7-1 defeat at Anaheim on Aug. 4.

Torii Hunter expects to play Thursday despite going face-first into the outfield wall in the seventh inning Wednesday. He stumbled, setting up the winning run.

''Oh yeah, I'm a beast,'' said Hunter, who is 7 for 20 with three RBIs. ''Beast mode.''