Series Preview #48: Cleveland Indians (74-74) at Minnesota Twins (76-73)
Bob Toth | On 22, Sep 2015
If you selected in the prop bets that the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins would be playing a meaningful series for both clubs in the final two weeks of the regular season, make sure to collect your winnings.
To say this season has been a roller coaster ride for the Indians (74-74) would be disrespectful to roller coasters. After a roster shuffle and more bad months than good, Cleveland finds themselves still playing important games and very much in the mix for an outside chance at an American League Wild Card berth. The road has not been easy, nor will it be for the rest of the way, but the mettle of the team has been tested and a much younger, less veteran group has withstood the pressure and made for an entertaining month of September. If nothing else, it may give a little more hope to the 2016 campaign.
The Indians took two of three over the weekend from the Chicago White Sox. They slammed the Sox in game one on Friday by a 12-1 final. The Indians challenged late on Saturday, but ran out of time in a devastating 4-3 loss. They won the series on Sunday, powered by two three-run innings in a 6-3 victory.
Minnesota (76-73) did not have a good weekend and saw itself passed in the standings, albeit briefly, by the Los Angeles Angels. The Halos won 11-8 on Thursday before Friday night’s rainout. The Angels matched the Twins in the standings in a 12-inning victory in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader and moved past them with a 5-2 win in the nightcap. Minnesota avoided the sweep with an 8-1 win on Sunday afternoon to end a five-game losing streak.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Salazar is 3-1 in his career with a 3.18 ERA against the Twins, including a 2-0 mark this season with a 2.08 ERA. He has struck out 21 Minnesota hitters and walked just two in 13 innings on the mound. He won his last start, a 5-1 decision over Kansas City, with seven innings of one-run ball. Santana is 3-10 lifetime against the Indians, but did notably throw the only no-hitter in Progressive Field history while with the Angels.
Kluber has not won a decision in over a month, despite allowing just five earned runs over his last three appearances. He is 2-0 this season in three starts against Minnesota with a 1.38 ERA. Two of those outings were complete games. Hughes was activated from the disabled list on the 15th and made one start and one relief appearance. After initially appearing as though he would remain in the bullpen, Hughes was reinserted into the rotation when the Twins lost another arm to injury. He is 5-3 in ten starts against Cleveland in his career.
Anderson faced the Twins in August, giving up six runs on five hits in two and two-thirds innings and was placed on the disabled list following the start. Since his return, he has latched on to a spot in the rotation, posting a 3-0 record in five starts with a 2.12 ERA. Gibson, a first round pick of the Twins in the 2009 draft, is in his third season. He has made five career starts against the Indians, winning once and losing once while posting a 5.61 ERA. Despite leading the Twins in starts this season (30), he has not yet faced the Indians this season.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports North
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; Treasure Island Baseball Network
AL WILD CARD STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. WCGB STRK L10
New York 82-67 .550 +3.0 L1 5-5
Houston 80-71 .530 – W3 4-6
– – – – – – – – –
Minnesota 76-73 .510 -3.0 W1 4-6
Los Angeles 76-74 .507 -3.5 L2 5-5
Cleveland 74-74 .500 -4.5 W1 6-4
Baltimore 73-76 .490 -6.0 W1 6-4
Cleveland leads the all-time series between the Washington/Minnesota franchise, 1,115-976.
The Twins hold the edge in the season series, seven games to five, with seven games remaining on the season slate against one another. Minnesota won each of the last two games against Cleveland in August by 4-1 finals in a series that they outscored the Tribe, 9-8. The Indians are 2-4 at Target Field this season, winning one game in each of the previous two series in Minneapolis. They are 3-3 at Progressive Field.
ON THE MEND
Max Kepler (OF) – contract purchased from Double-A Chattanooga (September 22)
Tommy Milone (SP) – to be determined – shoulder fatigue (September 20)
Ricky Nolasco (SP) – 60-day disabled list (June 4) – recovery from July 2015 ankle surgery
Ryan Pressly (RP) – 60-day disabled list (August 2) – right lat strain
Michael Brantley is hitting .315 this season, good for third-best in the AL. He is 22 points behind league-leading Miguel Cabrera. He trails Cabrera and Mike Trout with a .382 on-base percentage. He is the Major League leader in doubles this season with 45, four more than the next closest players.
Amongst all AL players with at least 100 plate appearances this season, Francisco Lindor ranks fifth with a .316 batting average.
Glen Perkins is fifth in the AL with 32 saves this season for Minnesota.
The Twins highest qualified hitter in the batting title race is Joe Mauer, who is 39th in the league with a .266 batting average.
The Indians will continue their final road trip of the season with a three-game set in Kansas City before returning home for their final seven games of the season. The Twins will head to Detroit for three against the Tigers before returning to Cleveland for a potentially pivotal four-game set with playoff implications.
Photo: David Maxwell/Getty Images