ANAHEIM, Calif. — The upcoming three-game series between the Los Angeles Angels and the Minnesota Twins, which starts Monday night, is the latest engagement in each team's campaign to salvage their respective seasons.
After Sunday's 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Angels are only one-half game out of last place in the American League West. Los Angeles not only has lost seven of its past nine games but members of the Angels' patchwork rotation have failed to pitch beyond the sixth inning in eight of the previous 10.
Right-hander Matt Shoemaker is the exception, and he is not scheduled to start against the Twins.
“If we're going to start to get this thing going in the direction it needs to be going, the first thing that has to be in order is our rotation,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “That will help our bullpen heal and solidify.”
Five of the 10 Angels on the disabled list are pitchers. Four are starters and three are on the 60-day disabled list — including the projected top two, Garrett Richards and Andrew Heaney.
Minnesota brings the American League's worst record into Monday night's game. But Joe Mauer also brings a streak of 24 consecutive games in which he has reached base. At 29, shortstop Eduardo Nunez is enjoying his best season. Nunez enters the game fifth in the American League with a .327 average and third in stolen bases with 14.
Yet wins have been so few and far between for the Twins that pitcher Pat Dean, who grew up rooting for the Boston Red Sox in Connecticut, actually thought his childhood favorites had won when teammate Max Kepler hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to give Minnesota a 7-4 win over the visiting Red Sox.
“Wow, that was bad,” Dean told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “The ending kind of got my mind going a little crazy right now.”
Two right-handers experiencing frustrating seasons face each other Monday night. The Twins' Ricky Nolasco has lost three of his past four decisions and compiled a 6.39 earned-run average since the start of May.
Meanwhile, the Angels' Jered Weaver continues to struggle with velocity and command. In his last outing on Wednesday night, Weaver allowed six runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings of a 12-6 loss to the New York Yankees.
Mike Trout, who suffered a bruised right thumb when hit by a pitch Sunday, is expected to play for the Angels. But reliever Jose Alvarez is day-to-day after being hit in the right shin by a ground ball.