Tribe Looks for Payback as Twins Come to Cleveland for Three
Bob Toth | On 13, May 2016
It’s been tough in some regards to watch the Indians (16-15) play a very average season. While they sit in second place in the American League Central, five games stand between them and the Chicago White Sox, who have raced out to a 23-12 start this season.
While it’s early, much too early to dwell on the standings, the old mantra about it being early is a dangerous one. Indians fans have learned all too well in recent years that poor early play results in a very trying summer. The Tribe is still on the positive side of the wins and losses but has been unable to bust through, failing to put together a long winning streak and incapable of getting more than two games above the .500 mark. They had a chance this week, but instead dropped two of three to Houston, the former cellar-dwellers of the American League West.
Yet no matter how trying and frustrating to watch the Indians scuffle, it could be worse – they could be in the Minnesota Twins’ shoes. The Twins (8-25) make their first trip to Cleveland this weekend, marred in a seven-game losing streak and having lost eleven of their last 12 since the Indians salvaged the final game of their series against them on April 27. Minnesota needed two game-winning hits in their last at bats to win the first two games.
The Indians need to capitalize during this series, as the Twins are just 2-15 on the road and have the worst record overall in the American League (and are tied with the Atlanta Braves for the worst mark in baseball).
Friday, 5/13, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Ricky Nolasco (1-1, 4.70 ERA) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (5-0, 3.72)
Saturday, 5/14, 4:10 PM ET – RHP Ervin Santana (0-2, 3.86) vs. RHP Corey Kluber (2-4, 4.14)
Sunday, 5/15, 1:10 PM ET – RHP Tyler Duffey (0-2, 2.60) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (3-0, 3.86)
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (Friday and Sunday); FS1 (Saturday); Fox Sports North (all games)
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; Go 96.3 (Minneapolis)
Eduardo Escobar (SS) – 15-day disabled list (May 7) – left groin strain
Kyle Gibson (SP) – 15-day disabled list (April 23) – right shoulder strain
Glen Perkins (CL) – 15-day disabled list (April 11) – left posterior shoulder strain
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
The Indians hold a 1,118-983 advantage over the Twins/Senators franchise dating back 2,111 games to 1901.
Since relocating to Minnesota, the Twins trail the Indians by 20 games in the all-time series, 409-389. Cleveland holds the advantage on their home field, posting a 223-174 record.
The Twins took two of three in the first of six series between the two clubs at the end of April, winning twice on walk-off hits.
The matchup between the Twins and Indians will pit two of the worst home run hitting teams in the American League against each other. The Indians have 27 homers to their credit this season; the Twins have hit just one more. Baltimore leads the AL with 49 this season.
MINNY STARTERS STRUGGLING
Twins starting pitchers have combined to go 3-17 with a 5.20 ERA through their first 33 games, the second-worst ERA in the AL. They have allowed the third-highest batting average (.282) this season. The Indians staff, by comparison, is 14-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 31 games and has allowed a .232 average against. They have an AL-best 1.15 WHIP.
Twins relievers have not fared much better, allowing a 4.34 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, with both marks the second-worst in the league. They have just two saves in nine opportunities and have issued a league-high 50 walks.
MAUER AND SANO SLOWED IN MAY
Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is hitting just .241 in May with hits in just three of his eight games played in the month. He is just 4-for-24 (.167) in his last seven games after a 3-for-5 to start the month against Detroit. Miguel Sano is hitting just .206 in the month with two doubles, one home run, and two RBI in nine games. He had three hits in ten at bats against the Indians in their three-game set in April.
Catcher Yan Gomes was 0-for-10 in the series against Houston with four strikeouts. That hitless streak extends to 0-for-20 since his one-out RBI-double in the bottom of the fourth inning of May 4th’s game against Detroit. In his last eleven games, he is just 2-for-42 (.048).
Francisco Lindor was just 1-for-15 in a big series against the Astros in what was anticipated to be an enticing look at two of the top shortstops in baseball today.
FIVE-SPOT FOR KIPNIS
Jason Kipnis was one of the few shining stars of the 16-inning marathon between the Indians and Astros on Wednesday afternoon, as the Tribe’s second baseman went 5-for-7 with one RBI. Despite being on base all day long, his teammates did not push him across the plate once, which proved costly in the two-run loss.
In the series, he went 7-for-14 (.500) with a walk and two RBI. He cut down on his strikeout rate substantially during the matchup, hitting the pine just one time on a K.
First baseman Mike Napoli continues to hit in the clutch and performed well back in the state of Texas this week, where he has spent several seasons of his career while a member of the Rangers. He was 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer and two RBI.
The Indians will jump back into interleague play on Monday, when they begin a home-and-home series with the Cincinnati Reds. The first two games will take place in Cleveland at 6:10 PM ET before the series moves to Cincinnati for two 7:10 PM ET starts. The Twins will head to Comerica Park after the series for a three-game set with the Detroit Tigers before returning home to Target Field for a homestand.
Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images