Series Preview #37: Cleveland Indians (53-60) at Minnesota Twins (57-57)
Bob Toth | On 14, Aug 2015
Where was that homestand at all season long?
After posting one of the worst home records over the course of the year, the Cleveland Indians finally gave their home fans something to cheer about during the week, as they won a pair of series against two playoff contending teams, the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees. Now, they will rematch with the Twins on their home turf of Target Field for a three-game series to start the Indians’ eleven-game, four-city road trip.
The Indians (53-60) continued to torment teams in the playoff hunt by winning their first of two series against the Yankees this season. It took 16 innings on Tuesday night to declare a winner, but Michael Brantley’s walkoff single in extras gave the Indians their third straight win. They extended that to four straight on Wednesday with a 2-1 victory in a well-pitched game from Danny Salazar. A large early deficit did not stop the Indians from clawing back into the game, but they just ran out of time as they dropped an 8-6 final on Thursday to miss out on the sweep.
The Twins (57-57) left Cleveland in bad shape, having dropped seven of nine and earning both wins on late inning efforts. They are just 8-17 in the second half. They took two of three in their return home against the Texas Rangers during the week, winning in walkoff fashion on Tuesday night, 3-2, followed by an 11-1 win on Wednesday and a 6-5 loss on Thursday that dropped the club back to the .500 mark. They are eleven games in back of the AL Central leading Kansas City Royals and are now three games out of the jam packed AL Wild Card race.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Kluber will face the Twins for the second straight time. His last time out, he threw a complete game and held Minnesota hitless over the first six and two-thirds while notching his seventh double-digit strikeout game of the year. He is 5-2 in his career with a 3.48 ERA against them, including a 1-0 mark with a 1.59 ERA this season in two starts. For May, it will be just a temporary start in a banged up rotation. He made 15 starts in the rotation to begin the season, but has worked in 13 games in the bullpen since July 6th. He is 2-1 against Cleveland this season in four games, two starts, and is 3-2 with a 6.65 ERA against them in six total games.
Tomlin will work as an injury replacement on Saturday while making his first start for the Indians since August 13th of last season. He has a 9.82 career ERA at Target Field and is 2-3 with a 6.41 mark in nine games against the Twins in his career. It will be just the second Major League appearance for Duffey and his first against the Tribe. He was shelled for six runs on five hits over 60 pitches in just two innings of work in his debut against Toronto on August 5th.
Carrasco has yet to earn a win at Target Field in his career. He is 1-3 lifetime against the Twins with a 3.40 ERA in ten games, including seven starts. In his last three starts, he has allowed seven hits and two walks in 26 innings. He has a 1.04 ERA in those starts and the Indians have won all three games. This season in eleven road starts, “Cookie” is 7-2 with a 2.49 ERA. Milone is 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA against the Indians in four career starts. He has not pitched since July 31st against the Seattle Mariners, when he allowed a season-high eleven hits in six innings in a loss. He has given up six homers in his last three starts.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports North will air all three games. The affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network, Go 96.3 in the Twin Cities area, and the Treasure Island Baseball Network will handle radio calls of all three games.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. GB WCGB STREAK
Kansas City 68-46 .596 – – L2
Minnesota 57-57 .500 12.0 3.0 L1
Detroit 55-59 .482 13.0 5.0 W1
Chicago 54-58 .482 13.0 5.0 W3
Cleveland 53-60 .469 14.5 6.5 L1
The Indians pulled the season series against the Twins nearly back to even by taking two of three from Minnesota when they came to Cleveland over last weekend. A tough 10-9 loss on a ninth inning homer was the only thing separating the Tribe from a three-game sweep. The Twins hold a 5-4 lead in the series this year, including a 2-1 record at Target Field.
Since moving to Minnesota, the Twins are 380-405 against the Indians. They do own a 209-183 advantage when Cleveland comes to town.
ON THE MOVE and ON THE MEND
Cody Anderson (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 8) – left oblique strain
Michael Brantley (OF) – day-to-day (August 14) – left shoulder inflammation; not in Friday’s lineup
Gavin Floyd (SP) – 60-day disabled list (April 5) – recovery from March 2015 right elbow surgery
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 8) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Jason Kipnis (2B) – 15-day disabled list (August 2) – right shoulder inflammation
Ryan Raburn (OF/DH) – bereavement list (August 11)
Josh Tomlin (P) – expected to be recalled from Triple-A Columbus for Saturday’s game
Blaine Boyer (RP) – 15-day disabled list (August 9) – right elbow inflammation
Tyler Duffey (SP) – expected to be recalled from Triple-A Rochester for Saturday’s game
Phil Hughes (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 10) – lower back inflammation
Tommy Milone (SP) – 15-day disabled list (August 1) – mild left elbow strain; expected to be activated for Sunday’s start
Ricky Nolasco (SP) – 60-day disabled list (July 7) – right ankle impingement
Ryan Pressly (RP) – 60-day disabled list (August 2) – right lat strain
Michael Tonkin (RP) – recalled from Triple-A Rochester (August 14)
THE NUMBERS GAME
Jose Ramirez has continued his tear at the plate for the Tribe, hitting safely now in eight straight games while replacing the injured Kipnis. During that span, he is hitting .378 with 14 hits, five walks, six runs scored, and seven runs batted in.
Francisco Lindor brought the glove with him from the start upon his promotion from Columbus, but the bat is now in full effect, too. He has put together an eight-game hitting streak of his own (.452 average, two doubles, four RBI), the longest of his career. In 25 games since the All-Star break, he is hitting .343 with three homers, four doubles, and 14 RBI, to boost his season batting average to .283.
Brantley ended a four-game multi-hit streak in Thursday’s loss. He had eleven hits in 20 at bats over his previous four games with five doubles, five RBI, and six runs scored. He delivered the game-winner on Tuesday in a 5-4 win in 16 innings before getting a much-deserved day off on Wednesday. He has pushed his season batting average up to .312, seventh-best in the American League. He is hitting .395 against the Twins on the season with 15 hits, including three doubles, a homer, and seven runs batted in.
Trevor Plouffe leads the Twins in RBI with 62. He is hitting .248, but has 16 homers and 62 RBI. He is hitting .250 against Cleveland this season and just .174 in August. His one homer against the Indians this year was a big one, providing the Twins with a walkoff win in extra innings against Cleveland earlier in the season.
All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier is hitting .245, but leads the team with 24 homers and is third on the team with 59 RBI while scoring 80 runs this season. He is hitting just .229 this year against Cleveland, .184 in the month of August, and just .107 in 28 at bats in his career against Kluber.
Torii Hunter continues to show that he can supply power for the young Twins, even if his batting average (.242) and on-base percentage (.296) are well off of his career marks. He has 18 homers this season with 60 RBI, both second-best on the club. Against the Indians, he has four of those homers and a dozen of the RBI while hitting .429 in 28 at bats.
CASEY AT THE BAT
Retired thirteen-year veteran Casey Blake made his MLB debut on August 14th, 1999, in his brief professional time with the Toronto Blue Jays before being claimed off of waivers by the Twins on May 23rd, 2000.
Blake was drafted three separate times – by Philadelphia in 1992, by the New York Yankees in 1995, and by Toronto in 1996. After playing just 14 games for the Jays in 1999, he joined the Twins for seven in 2000. He played 13 more in Minnesota at the beginning of the next season before he was claimed off of waivers by Baltimore in September. After three weeks in Maryland, the Twins picked him back up in a waiver claim from the O’s.
After another cup of coffee with the Twins in 2002, where he hit .200 in nine games, he became a free agent and joined the Indians. After never being a regular starter in three different cities in his big league career, Blake logged 152 games of work in 2003 while breaking out with a .257 average, 17 homers, and 67 RBI as a corner infielder. The next season, the right-handed hitting Blake set career highs with 28 homers and 88 RBI while hitting .271 in another 152 games. He would eventually log some time in right field and would be dealt in the midseason fire sale of 2008 that sent catching prospect Carlos Santana and reliever Jon Meloan east from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Blake spent parts of four seasons with the Dodgers before hitting free agency after the 2011 season. He signed with the Colorado Rockies for the 2012 season, but was cut prior to the start of the year.
Blake will turn 42 next Sunday.
Cleveland will turn their road trip back towards the Atlantic as they head to Fenway Park for a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox starting on Monday before moving on to New York to face the Yankees for four next weekend. Minnesota will head in the same direction, for the most part, stopping in the Bronx to take on the Yankees for three straight on Monday.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images