Series Preview #11: Minnesota Twins (14-15) at Cleveland Indians (13-18)
Bob Toth | On 05, May 2014
The Cleveland Indians and Progressive Field will play host for the second time this season to the second place Minnesota Twins this week in a four game set.
Cleveland (13-18) ended its six game losing streak by taking two of three from the Chicago White Sox over the weekend and coming within two outs of the three game sweep. The Indians bats woke up on Friday, plating 12 runs in a 12-5 victory. Justin Masterson was sharp again while pacing Cleveland to a 2-0 victory on Saturday night. A three-run home run by Dayan Viciedo off of closer John Axford with one out in the ninth on Sunday spoiled a record-breaking outing by Corey Kluber, as the Tribe fell 4-3.
Minnesota (14-15) hosted the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend and took two of three from the O’s to stay within four and a half games of the streaking Detroit Tigers. Former Indians pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and two bullpen mates blanked the Twins on a 3-0, four-hit shutout on Friday night. The Twins bounced back with a 6-1 victory on Saturday behind three-hit games from Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer, who each homered. Minnesota claimed the rubber match 5-2 on Sunday behind three RBI from Kurt Suzuki and two from Trevor Plouffe.
Zach McAllister (3-2, 3.82 ERA) will launch the four game series between the two clubs on Monday night at 7:05 PM ET. He looks to get back in the win column after being tagged with losses in each of his last two starts. Kyle Gibson (3-2, 4.34) will take the mound for the Twins. After winning his first three decisions, he has dropped his last two while giving up 12 runs on 19 hits in nine and two-thirds innings.
Josh Tomlin will return to the Major League rotation on Tuesday for the Tribe in the 7:05 PM ET start. He was 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA at Triple-A Columbus in five starts, including a complete game three-hit shutout in his last start with ten strikeouts. Samuel Deduno (0-1, 2.89) will counter for Ron Gardenhire’s club. It will be the first start for the right-hander since August 29th of last season. His last start against Cleveland was six days earlier, when he allowed one run on three hits in six innings in a win.
Danny Salazar (1-3, 5.93) will start the final evening game of the series on Wednesday night. He earned the win in his last start with five innings against Chicago. Ricky Nolasco (2-3, 5.82) will open for Minnesota. He went the distance his last time out, allowing three runs on nine hits in a loss to Baltimore. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.
Masterson (1-1, 4.01) will start Thursday’s afternoon finale at 12:05 PM ET on getaway day. He earned his first win of the season with seven and one-third innings of scoreless, four-hit pitching versus the White Sox. Kevin Correia (1-3, 6.09) will toe the slab in opposition. He earned his first win of the season on Saturday with seven innings of one run ball.
All four games will air on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports North. Thursday’s finale will also air on the MLB Network. Radio broadcasts will be available on the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and on 96.3 K-TWIN in the Twin Cities area.
TRANSACTIONS and INJURIES
After putting together a healthy couple of weeks, the injury bug has bitten the Indians hard in the last week.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis is on the 15-day disabled list with a right abdominal strain.
Catcher Yan Gomes was activated Monday from the Paternity List. To make room for Gomes on the roster, Jason Giambi was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Giambi suffered a a right calf strain during Saturday evening’s game.
Center fielder Michael Bourn is nursing a left hamstring injury and may miss the series. Nyjer Morgan returned to the Cleveland lineup from Columbus, taking the roster spot of reliever Nick Hagadone, who had joined the team when Johnson was designated.
A corresponding roster move to add Tomlin to the roster will be made on Tuesday.
Starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey was placed on the 15-day disabled list by Minnesota, retroactive to May 2nd, with a strained left groin. Shortstop Danny Santana was called up from Triple-A Rochester to replace him on the roster and Deduno assumed his rotation spot.
Three outfielders are also on the disabled list. Oswaldo Arcia has begun a Triple-A rehab assignment while recovering from a right wrist strain. Josh Willingham is on the 15-day DL with a minor fracture in his left wrist and was unable to swing in a batting cage attempt on Saturday. Center fielder Aaron Hicks was placed on the 7-day concussion DL on May 2nd with concussion-like symptoms.
Mauer left Sunday’s game in the top of the third inning after experiencing back spasms.
Switch-hitting shortstop Eduardo Escobar is hitting .385 over his last ten games. He has reached base safely in five straight games, with hits in four of his last five. He ended April with four hits in four at bats with a pair of runs batted in. He is batting .325 on the season.
Dozier is batting .360 over his last six games with five stolen bases to boost his season batting average to .248. He leads all of baseball with 31 runs scored on the season and is tied for the American League lead with eleven stolen bases. He is third in the AL with 23 walks. He hit .364 against the Indians in their first meeting against one another in April. He has four hits in five career at bats against Salazar and six in 12 at bats against Masterson with six walks.
Mauer is hitting .429 in the last week to improve his season average to .296. He is a career .342 hitter against the Indians with nine home runs and 60 RBI. He is 4-for-9 in his career with four RBI against McAllister.
Plouffe leads the AL with 14 doubles on the year. Chris Colabello is third in the league in RBI with 27.
CLUTCH FOR CLEVELAND
The bat of Carlos Santana has arrived in the last week. He has hit .261 in his last six games to break out of a lengthy slump. He has slammed three home runs and eight RBI, both leading the team in that span.
Michael Brantley slugged his team-leading fifth home run of the season in Friday’s win. In the first five weeks of the season, Dr. Smooth is within five blasts of tying his personal high of ten home runs, established last season.
Third baseman and designated hitter Lonnie Chisenhall is batting .389 with a .441 on-base percentage on the season in limited action. He is second on the team with seven doubles, just one behind Nick Swisher, who has played a dozen more games than Chisenhall. He has hits in each of his last three games, including a three-hit effort in Sunday’s loss. He is 3-for-9 against Deduno with a solo home run and three walks.
The Twins took two of three from the Tribe in their earlier meeting in April to open the home schedule. The Indians hold the edge in their all-time head-to-head series, as Cleveland has won 1,100 games while Minnesota has been victors of 963.
CIRCLE ME, BERT
Bert Blyleven spent more than half of his Hall of Fame career between the Indians and Twins organizations.
A product of Zeist, Holland, Blyleven cracked the Major Leagues at the age of 19. He was a third round pick by the Twins in the 1969 amateur draft and debuted on June 5th, 1970, winning a 2-1 decision over the Washington Senators. He posted six consecutive seasons with a .500 record or better with the Twins to begin his career, including one of his best seasons, an All-Star nod in 1973 when he was 20-17 with a 2.52 ERA and had 25 complete games and nine shutouts.
He spent parts of two seasons with the Texas Rangers, beginning in 1976, and pitched his only no-hitter on September 22nd, 1977. His three years that followed in Pittsburgh were tumultuous and the Pirates ultimately traded him to Cleveland in December of 1980 with catcher Manny Sanguillen for a utility player and three pitchers.
He was 11-7 in the strike-shortened 1981 season for the Tribe. An elbow injury limited him to just four games in 1982 and he was 7-10 in 1983 before bouncing back with one of the best years of his career in 1984, posting a 19-7 record with a 2.87 ERA in 33 games. Towards the tail end of the 1985 season, he was dealt by Cleveland back to Minnesota for infielder Jay Bell, pitchers Curt Wardle and Rich Yett, and outfielder Jim Weaver. He would play with Minnesota through the 1988 season before joining the California Angels through the 1992 season. He re-signed with Minnesota for the 1993 season, but did not make the roster out of spring and retired.
He has been a color commentator on Twins broadcasts since 1996. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 in his 14th ballot with 79.7% of the vote. His number 28 jersey has been retired by the Twins. He is fifth all-time in career strikeouts with 3,701 and his 60 career shutouts are ninth highest in baseball history.
The Indians will hit the road following Thursday’s game to begin an AL East roadtrip through Tampa Bay and Toronto for three a piece. The Twins will continue their roadtrip with three games over the weekend in Detroit against the first place Tigers.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer