The Angels have gotten on their first roll of 2012. Their 8-3 win over the free-falling Minnesota Twins at Target Field gave them their sixth win in the last eight games.
Setting table. The game plan was pretty clear. Against Francisco Liriano, who has dynamic stuff but rather hazy control, the Angels stacked the top of the lineup with their best on-base guys. Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo made it work, reaching base safely six times. Callaspo's bat is showing signs of heating up. He nearly beat the other Alberto to the first-home run-of-the-season finish line and had three RBIs.
Day Two. The Angels don't really need home runs from Albert Pujols, though, of course, they'll take them. What they need are big hits and production. The day after ending his career-long homerless streak, Pujols had two RBIs to help keep the Angels' offense from going back in a funk. It wasn't particularly spectacular, though his single to left was well-struck, but it led to runs.
No-no repeat. Jered Weaver didn't pull a Johnny Van Dermeer and throw consecutive no-hitters, but he labored through six strong innings under difficult conditions -- facing the same lineup in consecutive starts. Of course, if you're going to face a lineup twice in a row, it may as well be the Twins'.
Bullpen news. The Angels have had enough trouble holding leads. Now it just got more difficult. The team placed LaTroy Hawkins, the primary setup man, on the 15-day disabled list with a broken pinky. While Sunday was a good day for the bullpen, Monday was more ambiguous. Rookie David Carpenter, who now has an appreciable role, had a rough time in the eighth inning.
Cooling off. Torii Hunter ignited the Angels' offense last week, but a rough series against Toronto appears to have put him in a bit of a rut. Since his batting average hit the high-water mark of .319 on Wednesday, he has one hit in his last 15 at-bats to slip all the way to .283.
Twins baseball. After fuming about his team's "Little League" play in the Weaver no-hit game, Ron Gardenhire took a few days off to attend his daughter's graduation. He probably wished it was a week. The Twins are 7-21, easily the worst record in baseball. Left fielder Erik Komatsu dropped a fly ball. The Twins had just six hits. This team is a mess.