The Los Angeles Angels managed to survive a rough outing from their ace and cut their AL West deficit in the process. They're hoping they won't have to endure a similar performance from Joel Pineiro.
Pineiro will try to end his recent struggles in Sunday's series finale against the visiting Minnesota Twins.After scoring a season-high 13 runs in the series opener, the Twins (58-80) got another six off AL ERA leader Jered Weaver on Saturday night.Minnesota, though, fell 10-6 as Angels rookie Mark Trumbo hit his first career grand slam in the first inning. Vernon Wells added a tiebreaking solo shot in the fifth and Peter Bourjos homered an inning later."It was a frustrating night for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told the team's official website. "We banged the ball around against a pretty tough pitcher. But nothing seemed to work out too awful well."With the win and Texas' loss in Boston, Los Angeles (75-64) cut the Rangers' lead to 3 1/2 games."I think it's something that's well within reach, but we're definitely going to need to play way more consistently than the way we've been doing," Trumbo said. "We've had a number of games recently that we should have taken ... and it didn't happen. So if we're going to make a charge, it has to be now."As they try to make that charge, the Angels could use a better outing from Pineiro (5-6, 5.33 ERA) than they've received in recent weeks.The right-hander is 0-3 with a 10.30 ERA in his last six starts, including a marginally better 5.25 ERA in two outings since returning from a demotion to the bullpen. He gave up three runs over six innings Monday in Seattle and did not get a decision in a 5-3 defeat."He gave us a chance to win," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's not locked in where he was earlier in the season ... but he has made strides from when he was taken out of the rotation."Hopefully, he will continue because we are going to need him. We need depth in the rotation."Pineiro's prospects for a quick turnaround Sunday don't appear great. He's dropped four consecutive starts against Minnesota while posting a 7.66 ERA. Most recently, he was tagged for seven runs over 4 1/3 innings of an 11-4 home loss Aug. 3.What could help Pineiro break his drought is that the Twins will send out a winless Kevin Slowey (0-3, 5.91).The right-hander, who has suffered all three of his defeats since being recalled from the minors Aug. 11, was solid in a 3-0 loss in Chicago on Monday, allowing two runs over seven innings."Anytime I go out there I want to give my team a chance to win, but making progress is a good thing, and I'm looking forward to my next time out," Slowey told the Twins' website.Slowey is 3-2 with a 4.80 ERA in six career starts against the Angels.Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who is suffering from an upper respiratory infection and hasn't played since Wednesday, would probably love to return for this game as he's 15 for 22 in his career against Pineiro.Angels shortstop Erick Aybar, riding a 13-game hit streak, is 3 for 10 lifetime versus Slowey, while double-play partner Howie Kendrick is 6 for 12.