The strikeout-prone Minnesota Twins (25-21) are in for a challenge at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels (24-23) and Shohei Ohtani, owner of one of this season’s best K/9 rates, with the three-game series in the balance.
The Twins leveled the series 1-1 after winning 6-2 on Saturday. Starter Louie Varland went five innings, allowing two runs on six hits, to get the win. Joey Gallo was 1 for 4 with a solo home run in the win. Donovan Solano added a double and one run. Ohtani went 1 for 4 with a solo home run for the Angels.
ON THE MOUND
Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.00 ERA) is in line to get the start for Minnesota. The right-hander is tied for fifth in the AL in strikeouts (66). Lopez allowed five runs over 4.2 innings in his last start, a 9-8 road defeat against the Dodgers on Monday.
He yielded five hits while striking out four in the no-decision. RHP Ohtani (5-1, 3.23 ERA) is on the mound for Los Angeles. It’s his first appearance of the season against the Twins. Ohtani made one start against the Twins in 2022, throwing five innings in a 4-2 road win on September 23.
He gave up three hits and walked six, while striking out seven in the win.In his last start on Monday, Ohtani got the win on the road against the Orioles. He threw seven innings and gave up five runs on four hits, striking out five and walking two in the 9-5 victory. The RHP ranks second in the AL in strikeouts (71) and tied for fourth in wins.
AT THE PLATE
Over the last five games, Minnesota has averaged 5.2 runs a game, a small gain compared to their season average of 4.7. Against righties like Ohtani this season, the Twins have a .738 OPS. Byron Buxton is the team’s most productive hitter against right-handers with a .898 OPS in 118 at-bats.
Los Angeles is averaging only 3.4 runs per game in the last five, down from 5.0 for the season, with their slash line falling across the board (.251/.285/.380).
The Halos have a .747 OPS against right-handers in 2023. With a .573 SLG over 119 at-bats, Ohtani has been their best power hitter against right-handers.
HOME AND AWAY
Minnesota is 11-13 away from home in 2023, scoring 4.3 runs per game while allowing 3.6 runs. Los Angeles has gone 11-10 at their home ballpark this season, averaging 5.3 runs per game while surrendering 5.7.
In the last 10 games at Angel Stadium of Anaheim between the teams, each club has won five, though Minnesota has the scoring advantage with an average final margin of 5.3-4.6.
The Twins lead the AL Central by three games over the Tigers. The Angels are third in the AL West, five games behind the Rangers.
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LA Angels (-155)
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of BetMGM.