Twins-Angels Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 21, 2013
Joe Blanton hasn't been shy about his struggles this season, and his explosion in the dugout after his latest dismal performance proved he won't be able to endure many more. He takes the mound again Monday night as the Los Angeles Angels look to win a sixth straight home meeting with the Minnesota Twins. Blanton signed a two-year, $15 million deal in the offseason and was supposed to help soften the blow after Los Angeles lost starters Dan Haren, Ervin Santana and Zack Greinke. Instead, Blanton (2-12, 5.53 ERA) has been a major disappointment while recording the most defeats in the AL. The right-hander appeared to be getting on track, posting a 2.14 ERA in his previous three outings before going 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA over his final three starts before the All-Star break. He gave up four runs and walked four in four innings of a 4-3 loss to Seattle in his latest start July 14. After exiting that miserable outing, Blanton threw down the dugout's water cooler and exchanged words with catcher Chris Iannetta and pitching coach Mike Butcher. "Any time things aren't going good it kind of brings things to a little volcano, a little head, whatever you want to call it,'' Blanton said. "Things aren't going well. You try and do more out there competing with everything. Things happen. Guys get mad at giving up runs, striking out. It's part of it sometimes.'' Blanton likely wasn't pleased with his first outing this season versus Minnesota either, as he allowed four runs and nine hits - including homers to Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe - in an 8-2 defeat April 15. Los Angeles, though, has won five straight home meetings with the Twins and will look to bounce back after falling 6-0 to Oakland on Sunday. Iannetta had two hits and Mike Trout extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games for the Angels (46-50), who have dropped four of six. Minnesota (41-54) had won four straight before falling 7-1 to Cleveland in Sunday's series finale. Brian Dozier had both of the team's hits, with his double leading off the seventh breaking up Justin Masterson's no-hit bid. Plouffe struck out twice before being lifted for a pinch-hitter and has fanned in six straight at-bats. "In a situation like that, you just have to battle. I tip my cap to the guys out there," said bench coach Terry Steinbach, who was the Twins' acting manager as Ron Gardenhire recovered from a stomach flu. "They were doing the best they could, but (Masterson) just had his good stuff going." Minnesota will look to get back on track with help from Samuel Deduno, who went into the All-Star break on a high note after allowing one run in seven innings of a 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium on July 13. Deduno (5-4, 3.61) has tossed at least six innings in eight of his 10 starts and has allowed fewer than three earned runs six times. "With his stuff, he's the guy you want out there," Gardenhire said. "His ball moves all over the place, he gets good breaking balls and he was in control pretty much the whole game." The right-hander has never faced the Angels, though Josh Hamilton is 2 for 6 with a solo homer off Deduno.
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