Minnesota scored first Saturday with a 3-0 lead in the first, but it was all Los Angeles after that for a 9-3 win. The two clubs decide their 3-game series Sunday night on ESPN.
It’s time to face reality with the Los Angeles Angels; a fourth straight American League Western Division title isn’t likely to happen.
The Angels have dominated this division during the past three years winning the league title by an average of 12 games per season.
Los Angeles enters Sunday night’s ESPN game at Minnesota as the epitome of an average team befitting its third-place division standing.
The Angels are 61-62 through their first 123 games ranking 16th in runs, 19th in batting average and 22nd in ERA with a staff mark of 4.36.
Minnesota has proven tough at its new ballpark, Target Field. The Twins have won 38 of their first 59 games there. They’ve been on a major-league best 25-9 run since the All-Star break entering the weekend to open up a lead in the AL Central Division.
The Angels were 6-18 in their last 24 away contests through Friday. The Twins had won 10 of their last 11 home games going into Saturday.
The scheduled pitching matchup for Sunday’s game, which begins at 8 p.m. (ET), is Jered Weaver against Scott Baker.
Weaver leads the majors in strikeouts with 186. He’s 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA. Weaver, however, was not sharp in his last outing and has not pitched nearly as well on the road.
The 27-year-old righty gave up six earned runs on six hits in five innings during his last start, a 6-0 road loss to Boston this past Tuesday. Weaver was a 125 underdog against Clay Buchholz. The combined six runs dipped ‘under’ the 8-run betting odds total.
Prior to that start, Weaver’s ERA was 2.87. It was just the third time this year in 26 starts Weaver has surrendered more than four runs. He is 6-6 with a 4.40 ERA on the road compared to 5-2 with a 1.65 ERA at Angel Stadium.
The Angels have averaged just 2.2 runs in Weaver’s last 11 starts, failing to score more than four runs during any of those games. Lifetime versus the Twins, Weaver is 4-1 with a 3.64 ERA.
Weaver squared off against Baker in the first game of the season, winning 6-3. Weaver allowed three runs on five hits in six innings with six strikeouts and two walks. Baker, who was a 120 road underdog, gave up four earned runs on five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings with three strikeouts. The MLB betting total pushed at nine.
The Twins have won four of the first five meetings between the two clubs. Minnesota hasn’t had success facing the Angels when Baker has been on the mound, losing seven of the past eight times. Baker is 0-5 career-wise versus the Angels with a 5.82 ERA.
Baker didn’t pitch well in his last outing, getting a no-decision in a 7-6 victory against the Chicago White Sox this past Tuesday. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed four runs in 4 2/3 innings as a 120 home favorite versus John Danks. The combined 13 runs flew ‘over’ the 7 ½-run total.
Baker walked two batters and yielded two home runs. He threw 91 pitches despite not making it out of the fifth inning.
Before that game, though, Baker was 5-2 with a 4.30 ERA since the start of July. He has a 121-to-31 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but has been plagued by the long ball giving up 21 homers, including three during his last two starts.
Baker is 7-3 with a 4.23 ERA at Target Field, compared to 3-6 on the road with a 5.47 ERA.
The Twins have won 15 of their first 20 games versus AL West competition, while the Angels were 16-17 in their first 33 games facing AL Central foes.
The ‘over’ is 13-3-2 the past 18 times the teams have met head-to-head going into Saturday. Mike Winters is slated to be the home plate umpire. The Twins are 21-5 the past 26 times Winters has been behind the plate for their games.