Inside Pitch- Castillo Makes His Return

Castillo went 1-3 in his return on Tuesday.

In this edition of Twins' Inside Pitch, Silva loses to the Angels for the first time in his career, Luis Castillo returns to the Twins' lineup, Tony Batista moves to cleanup, and much more.

Just when the Twins' hitting appeared to be resurrected from last year's season-long woes and a tepid season-opening road trip, the team returned to its old ways against the Angels in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday.

After responding to a 1-5 start on the road with a 5-1 start to their current nine-game homestand -- hitting .332 to support the surge -- the Twins went silent against right-hander Kelvim Escobar and his bullpen.

It was an ugly offensive night reminiscent of last year, when the team scored the fewest runs in the league, mostly because of poor situational hitting and basic ineptitude at the plate. And it was reminiscent of the first week of the season, when the team hit just .225 during that 1-5 trip.

On this night? The Twins struck out a total of 12 times -- 10 against Escobar in just 6 2/3 innings. Center fielder Torii Hunter struck out three times by himself in four at-bats. And the team totaled just seven hits -- only one for extra bases.

How bad did it get? The Nos. 8-9 hitters -- right fielder Lew Ford and shortstop Juan Castro -- "led" the "attack" by combining for four of the seven hits.

REPLAY: Right-hander Carlos Silva (1-2) still doesn't have quality start this season but he pitched two outs deep into the ninth inning of a gutty, if spotty, performance in an 8-2 loss to the Angels in the opener of a three-game series at the Metrodome. It was the Twins' second consecutive loss after winning five in a row -- and they've been outscored 17-5 in the two losses.

It was Silva's first career loss against the Angels. Lew Ford drove in both runs for the Twins with two hits, batting in the eighth spot in the order.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • OF Ruben Sierra, who spent an extra two weeks in Florida finishing his comeback from a pulled quadriceps, joined the team Tuesday as scheduled, and manager Ron Gardenhire said the 40-year-old signed to be the Twins' pinch-hit specialist will be worked into the lineup in the coming days. "I'm going to get him at-bats," Gardenhire said. "You can't be a good hitter off the bench unless you get at-bats and get a good feel for it. You can't just sit there and get one at-bat a week or every three days."

  • DH Rondell White, who has struggled mightily to hit .085 heading into Tuesday's series opener against the Angels, was dropped from the cleanup spot Tuesday for the first time this season, to seventh. "I'm trying to take a little pressure off Rondell right now and keep him from thinking too much," manager Ron Gardenhire said. White went 1-for-4 to raise his average to .098 -- and got a standing ovation when he singled in the sixth.

  • 3B Tony Batista, the No. 7 hitter in the order all season, swapped lineup spots with former cleanup hitter DH Rondell White and immediately assumed White's slump -- going 0 for 4 and stranding three runners.

  • 2B Luis Castillo, who missed Sunday's game because of a sore left knee and consequently got two days off because of Monday's scheduled off day, returned to the lineup Tuesday but said the knee is still sore. He went 1 for 3 with an RBI.

  • Manager Ron Gardenhire on the return to the Metrodome Tuesday of LHP J.C. Romero, the reliever the Twins traded to the Angels for a minor-leaguer over the winter because of personality issues that culminated in an on-field clash with Gardenhire in September: "I don't want to talk J.C. We're talking Twins baseball. Me and J.C. are fine. We've done our business." Apparently, hard feelings linger.
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