Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
The Twins opened the season in Anaheim on April 5, which feels like a lifetime ago. We'd seen two exhibition games at Target Field but the official opener was still one week away.
Now, 59 home games later, Torii Hunter and the Angels are making their first visit. Can't wait to hear their impressions. Bill Plunkett, with the Orange County Register, has a recurring feature on his blog where he poses 5 questions to the other's teams beat writers heading into each series. I took part this week, offering some thoughts on Target Field and the Twins' playoff chances.
As La Velle reported earlier, the Twins returned Nick Punto to the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring today and recalled Matt Tolbert from Class AAA Rochester. The move gives the Twins a second utility infielder, along with Alexi Casilla, to provide depth with shortstop J.J. Hardy playing with a sore left wrist.
The Angels are 17-25 since July 1, as the three-time defending AL West champs, they're not to be counted out. The first-place Rangers are riding a four-game losing streak, and the Angels are still within seven games.
After going 3-1 in Anaheim to start the season, the Twins need just one more victory to win the season series against the Angels, something they haven't done since the 2002 regular season, when they went 5-4.
As the Angels mention in today's game notes, three of their players hit better against the Twins than they do against any other AL opponent: Bobby Abreu (.374), Howie Kendrick (.372), Hideki Matsui (.333). Two others -- Mike Napoli (.342) and former Royal Alberto Callaspo (.329) have tormented the Twins in the past, as well.
Hunter is batting .417 this month. Closer Brian Fuentes has held his opponents scoreless in 18 of his past 19 appearances, lowering his ERA from 6.23 to 3.22. For more on this series, check out La Velle's preview.
1. Bobby Abreu, DH
2. Howie Kendrick, 2B
3. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
4. Torii Hunter, RF
5. Juan Rivera, LF
6. Mike Napoli, C
7. Erick Aybar, SS
8. Brandon Wood, 3B
9. Peter Bourjos, CF
Starting pitcher: RH Dan Haren (1-3, 3.44 ERA)
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Hudson, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, RF
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Delmon Young, LF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. J.J. Hardy, SS
Starting pitcher: LH Brian Duensing (6-1, 2.00 ERA)
Target Field. First pitch: 7:10 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network
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