American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 8th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Twins (2-1) at LA Angels of Anaheim (1-2), 10:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Kevin Slowey (0-0, 0.00) LA Angels - Joel Pineiro (0-0, 0.00)
(Sports Network) - Joel Pineiro makes his Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim debut this evening, when the Halos wrap up their season-opening four-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Angel Stadium.
Pineiro parlayed a tremendous comeback season in St. Louis into a two-year, $16 million free-agent contract to round out Anaheim's starting corps. The sinkerball specialist was 15-12 with a 3.49 earned run average for the Cards. He also led the majors in fewest walks per nine innings (1.14) and highest percentage of groundouts (.641).
"Every first start of every year is exciting," Pineiro said. "You want to get out there and get that first one out of the way and get in the normal rotation. It's just a matter of executing, hitting your spots and making your pitches."
The right-hander, who struggled in previous AL stints with the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, carried his strong 2009 campaign into the spring, as he was 4-0 in his six Grapefruit League starts while pitching to a 4.38 ERA.
Pineiro is just 2-6 lifetime against the Twins with a 4.32 ERA in 15 games, 14 of which have been starts.
The Twins, meanwhile, will counter with right-hander Kevin Slowey, whose 2009 campaign was cut short because of wrist surgery. Slowey, though, was 10-3 at the time of the injury and pitched well this spring.
"I feel that the innings I logged in spring were very important," Slowey said. "First, to just encourage me that I was completely healthy again and then to encourage me that my stuff was still as good as it was before I got hurt and that I wasn't going to be throwing 84, 85 [miles per hour]. I avoided any physical limitation from having surgery."
Slowey beat the Angels the only time he faced them last season and is 2-1 with a 4.57 ERA in four career starts against them.
Minnesota won its second straight game on Wednesday, as Justin Morneau and J.J. Hardy each homered for the second time in as many games and Carl Pavano pitched seven strong innings to help the Twins to a 4-2 victory.
Pavano allowed only one run on six hits without walking a batter in his outing, while fanning six.
"It's always important to get off on the right foot," Pavano said. "I felt fresh tonight, even after 100 pitches. I escaped a couple of jams. I was able to make some pitches, and the guys made great plays behind me."
Jon Rauch notched his second save of the season despite yielding a run in the ninth.
Hideki Matsui went 3-for-4 and scored a run for the Angels, who also started 1-2 last season.
Anaheim starter Ervin Santana continued his struggles at home after giving up four runs, five hits and a walk in six frames. Santana, who went just 8-8 last season after a 16-7 mark in 2008, went 2-5 with a 6.05 ERA at home in 2009 .
"Ervin had trouble putting hitters away, but his stuff was really good, and he's going to be okay," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "Pavano pounded the zone and changed speeds. He's not overpowering, but he did a good job of keeping us off-balance."
Scioscia has also said that Matsui will likely start in left field this evening, marking the 2009 World Series MVP's first time in the field since June 15, 2008. He had been limited the last two seasons with knee troubles.
"I feel like it has a positive effect, staying on the field all the time and playing defense," Matsui told the team's website. "I believe strongly that when you're on the field all the time, you're always in the game - as opposed to DH'ing."
The Angels won six of the 10 meetings between these teams last season and went 3-1 against the Twins at home in 2009. Minnesota is just 6-11 at Anaheim since the start of the 2007 campaign.
04/08 11:24:42 ET