Twins aim for sweep of Angels (Jul 05, 2017)

BY AP • July 5, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- Two strong performances from starting pitchers helped to alleviate bullpen issues for the Minnesota Twins and finally earn them some wins at home.

Now Minnesota will turn to its ace, All-Star Ervin Santana, in an attempt to sweep the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

The Twins have searched for reliable starting pitching all season behind Santana and Jose Berrios. Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Gibson both pitched into the seventh inning in the first two wins against Los Angeles, leading manager Paul Molitor to turn to his most effective relievers in short stints in the victories.

"You get back-to-back quality starts, it helps when you only have to go through a couple relievers instead of burning through multiple guys," Molitor said.

Molitor can hope for the same formula on Wednesday as Santana (10-5, 3.07 ERA) makes his first start since being named to the American League All-Star team. Santana will face the team he broke into the majors with for the fifth time in his career and the second of the season.

Santana is 1-3 with a 6.20 ERA in four starts against the Angels, who will send right-hander Parker Bridwell (2-1, 3.95) to the mound. Santana allowed seven runs in four innings in a loss at Anaheim on June 3, part of an inconsistent June in which he allowed at least five runs four times and had two scoreless appearances.

The right-hander surrendered seven runs -- five earned -- in 5 1/3 innings in a loss at Kansas City in his last start.

"This is baseball. Even though you don't want to fail, one day you're going to," Santana told the Minneapolis Star Tribune after the outing. "I just keep my mind positive, and every time I go fail, I try to give my team a chance to win. I don't try to do anything different. ... I know everything is not going my way right now, but eventually it will be."

Bridwell has never faced Minnesota. He is coming off the first tough outing of his season, when he allowed five runs on 11 hits in six innings in a loss to the Seattle Mariners on Friday.

"Obviously not a good outing," Bridwell told the Orange County Register after his start. "I've got to be better in five days, and I will be."

For the Twins, turning to Santana with a chance to sweep a home series is a welcome change. Santana doesn't have to play the role of stopper. He is able to build on the strong starts by Mejia and Gibson.

"It's what you could ask for, I guess, to have your ace coming into the last game of the series when you've taken a series at home," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "We have a ton of confidence in a lot of our guys, but he's an All-Star for a reason. It's one of those things that we're going to go out there, he's going to roll out, and he's going to pitch. It's obviously against one of his former teams as well, so I think there's a little extra for him on the line as well."

Minnesota, which has the fewest home wins in the American League, has won four of its past five home games.

"I don't get too far out, you guys know me, as far as momentum and where we're winning and where we're losing," Molitor said. "It's something that we're trying to improve upon is home record. It hasn't been great the first half. But you never know when it might turn. It's a good start to the homestand."

The Angels have lost five of their past six games and are 1-6 against the Twins this season.

"We've got to try to find a way to get a win tomorrow and one day at a time just try to finish this (first half) strong," Angels outfielder Cameron Maybin said Tuesday. "We haven't played bad baseball, but we'd like to have a few more wins going into the (All-Star) break."

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