Angels-Twins Preview

C.J. Wilson couldn’t keep a prosperous stretch going in his latest outing. He also wasn’t at his sharpest in his only start this season against his next opponent.

The Los Angeles Angels left-hander will try for an improved performance against the Minnesota Twins while leading his club to its first four-game road sweep in the series in 50 years Sunday.

After going 8-8 with a 4.82 ERA in his first 21 starts this season, Wilson went 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four games beginning Aug. 12. That ended with an 8-3 loss in Houston on Tuesday.

Wilson (10-9, 4.66) was pulled after giving up five runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings.

"We hope (this is temporary)," manager Mike Scioscia told MLB’s official website. "We really need C.J., so hopefully he’ll turn the page and give us a start we need."

The Angels (86-55) have posted one of the best ERAs in the majors (2.84) while winning 19 of 26 even with Wilson’s outing and their three games in Minnesota. Los Angeles has given up 15 runs during its stay at Target Field but has scored 20 and is on the verge of its first four-game sweep in Minnesota since July 17-19, 1964.

The Angels rallied from a two-run deficit for an 8-5 win Saturday, and Albert Pujols drove in the go-ahead runs with a double in the ninth inning, his 2,500th career hit. Pujols, who also hit his 25th homer, and Howie Kendrick finished with three RBIs apiece to keep their team six games ahead of Oakland in the AL West.

"You hear Mike Trout a lot, you hear Miguel Cabrera a lot, but he’s quietly been doing it," Kendrick said of Pujols. "He’s a big piece of our team, he’s been driving in runs for us. And that’s going to be something that we’re going to need down the stretch, is his experience."

Wilson will try to help maintain that sizable edge in the division with a better showing against Minnesota than in a home matchup June 24. He gave up six runs in five innings – five in the second – but got enough support for an 8-6 victory.

Wilson has won all four decisions in his last five starts against Minnesota despite a 5.34 ERA. He’s gotten a combined 32 runs of support, and Josh Hamilton might give some more if he can return from a sore shoulder. Hamilton, batting .263 with 10 homers and a career-low 44 RBIs, hasn’t played since leaving Thursday’s series opener.

The Twins (61-81), losers in 11 of 15, are expected to start Logan Darnell (0-1, 8.25) while attempting to avoid their first season sweep to Los Angeles, 6-0 in this year’s series. The left-hander was called up from the minors Tuesday.

Darnell went 0-1 with an 11.00 ERA in his first two major league starts, both against the Chicago White Sox, from July 26-Aug. 1.

"He needs to come out, work ahead and use his pitches," manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB’s official website. "He has to take a deep breath and do what he did in the minor leagues and do the same thing here. If you starting changing things up here, then you get in trouble."

Gordon Beckham, acquired from Chicago on Aug. 21, was 2 for 5 with a double against Darnell.

Joe Mauer, batting .345 with six RBIs in his last eight games, is 3 for 25 lifetime against Wilson, his worst showing against any pitcher he’s faced at least 20 times. Kurt Suzuki is 2 for 25.