Twins find another way to lose, blow 5-0 lead in eighth

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It looked like the Twins finally had one in the bag when Scott Baker turned a 5-0 lead against the Angels over the bullpen after seven excellent innings.  It should have been the elusive third victory for Baker, who had seen the Twins score more than three runs in just three of his nine starts.

Alas, the eighth proved terribly unkind to the club once again.

Alex Burnett, Dusty Hughes and Jim Hoey combined to give up five runs in the frame, and Hoey went on to take the loss in the ninth as the Angels stormed back to win 6-5.  The Twins, already with baseball’s worst record, fell to 16-33.

Incredibly, the Twins have given up 49 runs in the eighth inning of their 49 games.  We’re no experts, but that’s almost like a run per game or something.

It seems likely that more changes are in store for the Twins bullpen after this one.  The three pitchers who combined to blow the lead — Burnett, Hughes and Hoey — have ERAs of 7.11, 9.95 and 10.61, respectively.  It’d be no surprise at all to Burnett and Hughes go down Saturday, with Chuck James and perhaps former first-round pick Carlos Gutierrez coming up to replace them.  Anthony Slama is another in line for a chance.

The Twins have more problems than the pen, and the shuffling of the chairs there probably won’t do a lot of good.  But they have to do something and since a long-term benching of Delmon Young probably isn’t in the cards, they’re low on alternatives.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

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Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.