Angels-Twins Preview


Los Angeles Angels ace Jered Weaver was dominant in the season opener, picking up right where he left off in 2011.

If that continues, it could spell trouble for the winless Minnesota Twins.

Weaver gets the ball Wednesday night at Target Field, where the light-hitting Twins try to avoid the first 0-5 start in team history.

Second in the AL Cy Young voting last season after recording a career-best 18 wins, Weaver (1-0, 0.00 ERA) struck out 10 and allowed four hits through eight innings of a 5-0 victory over Kansas City on Friday.

The right-hander did not walk a batter during his 97-pitch performance.

"When you're matched up against Weaver, you know you're not scoring a bunch of runs,'' Royals manager Ned Yost said.

That's something the Twins (0-4) haven't done against anyone. They have plated six runs and are batting .165 in their worst start since opening with four losses in 1981.

Minnesota was also 0-4 in 1969.

"You don't ever want to start 0-4 and put yourself in a big hole, so it's frustrating," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official website following a 5-1 series-opening loss to Los Angeles (2-2) on Monday. "... We need to win a ballgame. But it's not the end of the world right now. We can go on a five- or six-game winning streak and we're back above .500. The game can turn quickly."

For that to start happening Wednesday, Carl Pavano (0-1, 5.14) may need to be sharper than he was in his first outing of 2012. The veteran right-hander went seven innings in a 4-2 loss at Baltimore on Friday, surrendering four runs.

"I've never been a guy who comes out of the gate as strong as I'll be the next couple of weeks," said Pavano, who has a 4.76 ERA in 48 career April appearances.

Pavano will get his first look at Albert Pujols in an Angels uniform. Los Angeles' new first baseman has been struggling, going 0 for 4 in the series opener to drop to 3 for 14 with no home runs. He is 2 for 9 with no extra-base hits versus Pavano.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia is more concerned about left fielder Vernon Wells, who is 2 for 14 with five strikeouts. Wells, who batted .218 last year, was replaced in the lineup by Bobby Abreu on Monday before coming on in the seventh inning and striking out in his only plate appearance.

"He understands how much we need him," Scioscia said of Wells. "... Vernon needs to get simple, and he understands that."

Facing Pavano could help, as Wells is batting .385 with four homers off of the right-hander.

The Twins need to start getting production from someone other than new left fielder Josh Willingham, who has four RBIs and both of the team's homers after hitting a solo shot off C.J. Wilson on Monday.

Third baseman Danny Valencia is 1 for 11 following an 0-for-4 performance Monday, but both of his hits in nine at-bats against Weaver are home runs.

In his last start in Minneapolis on May 28, Weaver allowed two hits through nine scoreless innings while striking out seven. Reliever Kevin Jepsen, though, gave up the winning single to Valencia in Los Angeles' 1-0, 10-inning loss.

The Angels have won seven of 10 at Target Field.

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