Weather causes another washout for Twins

Published 9:50 am Thursday, April 18, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins still have a lot of work to do with their starting pitching.

The weather has been an early challenge, too.

The Twins postponed their series finale against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night about 15 minutes before it was supposed to begin due to steady rain that was turning to snow.

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The forecast was calling for more snow and strong winds Thursday. The Twins said the makeup date has yet to be determined.

This was the second postponement in four days for the Twins at Target Field, their open-air home since 2010. They had their game against the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon washed out by inclement weather.

So after an already-planned break Thursday, the Twins will start a three-game series Friday in Chicago. They’ll have played twice in the previous five days, and Vance Worley will have six days of rest between starts when they take the field against the White Sox.

“You’re going to play a lot of games later in summer, and you’re going to pay,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Really, you can’t fight this weather. It is what it is. But you’ll be playing games probably in better weather later, so that’s a good thing.”

The rotation, which has a 5.98 ERA, ahead of only the Angels in the majors, will be pushed back.

Scott Diamond will pitch Saturday and Kevin Correia on Sunday. When the Twins return home for a two-game series against the Miami Marlins, Mike Pelfrey will take the mound Monday and Pedro Hernandez on Tuesday.

Assuming, of course, the weather cooperates.

And that’s not only in Minnesota, usually the coldest market in the majors.

Two other games were postponed Wednesday, at Colorado and Chicago, bringing the baseball-wide season total to 10, plus one suspended game.

Proving that spring weather all over the north can be a wildly unpredictable phenomenon, there was only one postponement over the first 17 days of the 2012 season and none in that span in 2010, according to STATS. In 2011, there were 10 postponements.

This year through Tuesday, 13 games across the majors have been played with a first-pitch temperature below 40 degrees, according to STATS.

In their fourth season at Target Field, after moving out of the climate-controlled Metrodome on the other side of downtown, the Twins have enjoyed mostly friendly weather.

Until this month.

Only three of their first seven home games were played with a first-pitch temperature above 40 degrees, and 46 was the highest.

Over the three previous seasons here, the Twins had a total of five postponements, plus one suspended game completed the next day. They also had a pair of April postponements in 2011.

Whenever this Angels-Twins game is made up, the weather has to be better.

There are five other common days off for these teams:

— June 24: The Twins play at Cleveland the day before and Miami the day after. The Angels play at home the day before and at Detroit the day after.

— July 18: Both teams would have to sacrifice a day of their All-Star break. Both teams play at home the day after.

— Aug. 8: The Twins play at Kansas City the day before and at Chicago the day after. The Angels play at home the day before and at Cleveland the day after.

— Aug. 26: The Twins play at Cleveland the day before and at home the day after. The Angels play at Seattle the day before and at Tampa Bay the day after.

— Sept. 9: The Twins play at home the day before and the day after. The Angels play at home the day before and at Toronto the day after.

The extra day off should help the Twins and their outfield depth.

Backup Wilkin Ramirez left the game Tuesday because of a bruised back, but he was cleared to play Wednesday. Left fielder Josh Willingham, out the past two games because he was sick, was in the lineup Wednesday.

Darin Mastroianni, the only player on the roster who is trusted at all three outfield spots, was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with an injury to his left ankle. Assistant general manager Rob Antony said Mastroianni will likely miss at least three weeks. He’ll be in a walking boot for 10 to 14 days.

Rookie Oswaldo Arcia was recalled from Triple-A Rochester for the second time in three days to fill in for Mastroianni.

“He’s getting a lot of mileage. I hope he’s got it on his credit card,” Gardenhire joked.

Without Mastroianni, there’s no true backup to struggling rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks. Gardenhire said Ramirez and utility infielder Eduardo Escobar would be his emergency options.

Hicks, batting .044, has been moved from the leadoff spot to eighth to remove some pressure. But he’s eager to remain in the lineup.

“That’s what I’m used to. That just comes with the job of playing center field. You’ve got to be in there every day,” Hicks said, adding: “It’s a matter of time before they start dropping.”

Another day for a break from catching won’t hurt Joe Mauer, but the 2009 American League MVP sure doesn’t need any time away from the batter’s box.

He has a nine-game hitting streak and a .462 average (18 for 39) with two home runs and seven RBIs during that span. He went 8 for 10 with six RBIs over Monday and Tuesday, back-to-back four-hit games for the first time since June 26-27, 2006.

“We’ll just call it normal,” Gardenhire said. He’s getting his hits.”