What will Matt Shoemaker do next?
The 27-year-old rookie right-hander has been practically unhittable in his last three starts, putting up three straight scoreless performances of at least seven innings, becoming the first Angel since Nolan Ryan to do so.
On Friday he will turn his sights to the Twins as he tries to extend the Angels' five-game lead in the American League West.
Shoemaker earned AL Pitcher and Rookie of the Month honors for his superb August, when he went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA, 0.774 WHIP and .178 batting average against.
"Going into the season, I just had high expectations, and you just want to keep doing that all the way to the World Series," Shoemaker said. "That's the ultimate goal."
Shoemaker may have had high expectations, but he has surpassed everyone else's by carrying a 23 1/3-inning scoreless streak -- the franchise's second-longest by a rookie -- into his start against Minnesota. In his last three starts, he has held hitters to a .110 average, allowed one extra-base hit and posted a 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"It's still an extraordinary story, what Matt's done," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "There's always contributions from guys you wouldn't have seen in the crystal ball out of Spring Training, and that's an understatement to say he's been one of those guys. It's been incredible just how much we've needed him, and he's been strong."
Shoemaker has never faced the Twins, who will send right-hander Ricky Nolasco to the hill as he tries to shake his struggles.
Nolasco is in the middle of the worst season of his career, with a 5-10 record and 5.96 ERA. He was roughed up in his previous start, on Sunday at Baltimore, with season highs in both runs (eight) and hits (12) allowed.
"I thought I was able to turn a corner and was starting to feel pretty decent getting ahead of guys, but the main thing is, I wasn't able to put anyone away," Nolasco said. "I don't know how many times I had guys down in the count and they came back to make it even."
That start against Baltimore came on the heels of Nolasco's best performance of the season, in which he threw seven shutout innings while surrendering just three hits.
His ERA hasn't been below 5.49 all season.
Angels: Rasmus earns another start
Cory Rasmus will start on Saturday, Scioscia announced on Thursday. Rasmus threw three shutout innings against the A's last Saturday.
"If he can get into the fourth, great," Scioscia said. "If he can get into the fifth, better yet. We'll just see how he can hold up in his start."
Rasmus has a 2.48 ERA in 25 appearances (40 innings) this season, with 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings, a walk rate of 2.7 and a 1.10 WHIP. The Angels have a 12-man bullpen (including Rasmus) and can get plenty of length out of lefties Wade LeBlanc and Michael Roth if needed.
Twins: Milone to skip next start
Tommy Milone will not start as scheduled on Sunday because of a "dead arm," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Logan Darnell is the favorite to start in Milone's place, but if Darnell is needed in long relief before then, the Twins will use a starter by committee on Sunday.
"We're going to see how the next few games go," Gardenhire said. "[Milone] just said he has a tired arm, a dead arm right now. The ball just isn't coming out of his hand. After talking with the trainers and [pitching coach] Rick [Anderson], he said he's had this before. So we're just going to back him off."
Milone has struggled since coming to the Twins in the July 31 trade with the A's for outfielder Sam Fuld. He has a 7.84 ERA in five starts and hasn't gone more than six innings in any of those outings.
• The Angels have lost three of their last four games at Target Field.
• Angels starters have limited opponents to three earned runs or fewer in 21 of the last 24 games.
Matthew DeFranks is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.