Dan Haren hopes for better results today than the first time he toed the rubber this season when the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim conclude a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
One of the more consistent pitchers in the American League last season, Haren's 2012 got off to a shaky start on Saturday against Kansas City, as the Royals reached him for five runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The 31-year-old right-hander, who pitched to a 2.05 ERA this spring, gave up four straight singles in a two-run first inning, surrendered a double and another run in the second and threw 73 pitches through four. He then gave up homers to Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in the fifth and sixth inning, respectively, forcing manager Mike Scioscia to go to his bullpen with one out in the top of the sixth.
"All in all, I wasn't myself," Haren said. "But, you know, my season isn't going to be defined by my first one, whether it was a no-hitter or a day like that today. I'm going to go out there 33 more times, and more often than not, I'm going to do better than this."
Minnesota, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Francisco Liriano, who was roughed up in his season debut against the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
After a terrific spring that saw him pitch to a 2.33 ERA and strike out 33 batters in 33 innings, Liriano was battered for five runs and eight hits in just four innings.
"I was getting behind in the count too much," Liriano said. "I made a couple of mistakes. I thought I still made some good pitches. I worked through some things. But some hits got through."
The Twins picked up their first win of the season on Wednesday, as Jamey Carroll's go-ahead RBI single capped a three-run seventh inning in a 6-5 victory.
After the Angels tacked on a run in the top half of the seventh to make it 5-3, Ryan Doumit and Danny Valencia stroked back-to-back singles to leadoff the frame and chase Jered Weaver from the game.
Hisanori Takahashi (0-1) replaced Weaver and surrendered a two-run triple to Chris Parmelee to tie the game at 5-5 before Parmelee came around to score on Carroll's single to right.
Matt Capps worked around a one-out double from Torii Hunter to record his first save of the season.
Carl Pavano was touched for five runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings as the starter, while reliever Jeff Gray (1-0) got the win by retiring Peter Bourjos to end the seventh. Josh Willingham belted a two-run home run and Parmelee added two hits, two RBI and a run scored for the Twins, who avoided their first 0-5 start in franchise history.
"The bullpen came up huge and we got some big hits," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "Give credit to the guys out there, they didn't quit. We kept battling and we got the win."
Albert Pujols and Chris Iannetta knocked in a run apiece, while Bourjos hit a three-run inside-the-park homer in the fifth. Weaver made the start for the Angels, allowing five runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts in six-plus innings for LA.
"I thought [Weaver] started off strong," Scioscia said. "I think he just had a couple pitches he couldn't quite get where he wanted them to in the middle of the game and Willingham hit that home run off him and they bunched up hits."
The Angels won six of nine against the Twins a season ago, taking two of three in Minnesota from May 27-29.