05/01/2012 - Anaheim, CA (Sportsbook Betting Lines) - Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer and drove in three, C.J. Wilson pitched into the eighth inning and the Angels defeated the Twins, 4-3, on Monday in the opener of a three-game series.
Kendrys Morales went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Albert Pujols doubled and also crossed the plate for the Angels, who had dropped six of their last seven games coming in.
Wilson (3-2) was charged with three runs - all in the eighth inning -- on five hits and a walk and Scott Downs recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.
Alexi Casilla went 3-for-4 with an RBI double for Minnesota, which fell to 6-16. Nick Blackburn (0-3) allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings to suffer the loss.
Hunter followed Pujols' double with a two-out RBI single in the first and struck again in the fourth, belting a homer to left-center after Morales began the frame with a single.
"I've been having good at bats," said Hunter. "I'm hoping it will be contagious."
Chris Iannetta added a solo shot in the seventh for a 4-0 lead before Wilson ran into trouble in the eighth. He hit Chris Parmelee to start the inning and Casilla followed with a run-scoring double to left.
Denard Span's subsequent single plated Casilla and Wilson was relieved after inducing Jamey Carroll into a fielder's choice groundout. Josh Willingham greeted LaTroy Hawkins with a base hit and Sean Burroughs' fielder's choice groundout placed runners at the corners. Danny Valencia's line drive single past shortstop Erick Aybar made it 4-3, but Downs retired Ryan Doumit to preserve the lead, then grounded out Span after Casilla's two-out single in the ninth.
"We were in the ball game until the end," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We just couldn't get that one run to tie it."
Hunter is now three runs shy of 1,000 for his career...Pujols is one run shy of 1,300 for his career...Blackburn hasn't won since July 8, 2011 versus Chicago (AL). He is 0-7 in 12 starts since that victory, which marks the longest winless stretch of his career.
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Work left to do: Villanova, Syracuse, DePaul, West Virginia, Providence
Notre Dame and Louisville appear to have done enough to make the move, so we'll make them locks. The Cardinals, despite a modest RPI, are trending way up and have clinched at least a tie for third in the Big East, which should be more than enough with their pair of big road wins. Villanova got back to .500 and gets back to more solid footing. Syracuse got a very important road win and crippled a fellow contender in the process. West Virginia's fate could be in its hands Tuesday at Pitt.
Work left to do:
Villanova [18-9 (7-7), RPI: 21, SOS: 5] Pounded Rutgers to get back to .500. If Cats can get their last two (at UConn, vs. Syracuse), that should be enough with strong computer numbers and a host of wins away from The Pavilion. The Cats have beaten Texas and swept the Big 5 (never easy in Philly), but have a couple of losses to bubble teams (Xavier, Drexel), too. I still think they'll be OK, possibly even at 8-8.
Syracuse [20-8 (9-5), RPI: 53, SOS: 62] History says 10 wins will be plenty, but it might be hard for the Orange to get that last one with a final two vs. G'town, which is trying to win the league title, and at Villanova, which will be desperate for a W. The relative lack of nonconference heft and the weak computer numbers are still concerns, but the Orange have won four in a row and got a very, very big win at Providence on Saturday.
DePaul [16-12 (8-7), RPI: 54, SOS: 18] Beat Cincy and should get past South Florida to get to 9-7, but then what? They have beaten Kansas and Cal (right after the DeVon Hardin injury) earlier this season, but also have lost to Bradley and Purdue, among others. They'll likely need a couple of BE tourney wins, too, but we'll see ...
West Virginia [19-7 (8-6), RPI: 58, SOS: 125] The game at Pitt on Tuesday night could decide the Mountaineers' fate (barring a deep tournament run). They can still get to 9-7 in the Big East without it by beating Cincinnati, but the nine wins would be against UConn, Villanova, St. John's, South Florida, DePaul, Rutgers, Seton Hall twice and the Bearcats. Beating bubble foes is fine, but where's the beef? Outside of beating PG-less UCLA in nonconference play (still a top quality win), there's not a lot to fall back on (besides maybe NC State). WVU vs. Syracuse would be an interesting debate, as the teams don't play in the Big East regular season. WVU has the best win, but Cuse has played the much better schedule.
Providence [17-10 (7-7), RPI: 70, SOS: 33] The Friars likely saw their at-large hopes die at home in the four-point loss to Syracuse, barring an unexpected run to the Big East semis or more. The RPI, bad already, won't be helped by playing St. John's and South Florida in the final two league games.
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