Twins Make First of Three Trips to Cleveland in Battle of Top AL Central Clubs
Bob Toth | On 12, May 2017
The last road trip for the Cleveland Indians did not go quite as planned, so the team may be welcoming a brief stay at Progressive Field over the next six days as the club hosts the Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays.
It will be a big weekend for the Indians (18-15) if they hope to put a little distance between themselves and the Twins (17-14), who are off to a strong start to their season after a disappointing 59-103 showing a year ago.
While the Indians are coming off of a frustrating 4-5 road set through Detroit, Kansas City, and Toronto while the offense struggled to get going until the final days of the trip, the Twins have figured it out at the plate. Since a disasterous mid-April homestand, one that included a three-game sweep by the Indians, the Twins have won four of their last five series overall. They took two from the Chicago White Sox during the week, winning 7-2 on Tuesday and 7-6 on Thursday around a rainout in the middle game of the set.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Santana has started the season on fire for the Twins, but was hit his hardest this season his last time out when he allowed six of his nine earned runs on the year in a loss to the Boston Red Sox. He still gave the club six innings on the mound, but was victimized by four home runs, double what he had allowed over his first 41 innings and six starts. Despite tossing a no-hitter against them in the past and allowing just one run on four hits in six innings so far this season, Santana is just 5-11 against the Tribe in 22 career starts.
The 32-year-old Tomlin earned a win in his first start against Minnesota this season, allowing three runs on seven hits in six quality innings to improve to 5-4 lifetime against them. He threw one of his better outings of the season in his last start, working a season-high seven innings while allowing just one run on three hits with three strikeouts scattered over only 76 pitches against Kansas City. Since his start against the Twins, he has worked a much more respectable 2-1 record with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP after allowing 13 runs in his first six and one-thirds innings in his first two starts to the year.
Berrios will make his return to the big league scene for the first time in 2017 when he is recalled prior to the game. The Twins will need to make a corresponding roster move to create room on the 25-man roster for the 22-year-old right-hander. Last season, he was 3-7 with an 8.02 ERA and a 1.87 WHIP and struggled in three starts against the Tribe, going 1-2 with a 7.82 ERA in three starts (including his April 27 Major League debut).
Outside of some slightly higher than desired walk numbers, Clevinger was sharp against the Kansas City Royals in his first start of the season last Sunday. He worked five and two-thirds innings of one-hit baseball, walking four and striking out five before handing the game over to the bullpen for the 1-0 series clinching win. He made a pair of starts against the Twins last season, allowing three runs on nine hits with six walks and eight strikeouts over eight and one-third innings of work.
Santiago made another quality start for the Twins his last time out in shutting down the White Sox on two runs over six and two-thirds innings. Five times in six starts he has given the Twins a quality outing this season. He has been the recipient of good run support in each of his wins, averaging 7.25 runs per game. He has received just five total runs in his three non-wins. He has not defeated the Indians since 2012 and has a career 2-3 record with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 15 games (ten starts).
It was more of the same the last time out for Bauer, who gave up four runs early to the Toronto Blue Jays on 125 pitches in six innings of work to take his second consecutive loss on the mound. He has allowed four runs or more in five of his six starts thus far this season and has factored in every decision. He has had a rough go with the Twins in his career (see below), posting a 2-5 record against them with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 12 starts, but was good his first time out against them this season, allowing two runs on three hits in six and one-third innings.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports North
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; Treasure Island Baseball Network, Go 96.3 (Minneapolis)
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Austin Jackson (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/2) – left great toe hyperextension
Corey Kluber (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/3) – lower back strain
Kevin Chapman (RP) – acquired in trade from Atlanta Braves (5/8)
Trevor May (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/22) – recovery from March 2017 Tommy John surgery
Ryan O’Rourke (RP) – 60-day disabled list (3/30) – recovery from May 2017 Tommy John surgery
Glen Perkins (RP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – left posterior shoulder strain
Drew Rucinski (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Rochester (5/10)
Danny Santana (UTL) – traded to Atlanta Braves (5/8)
Catcher Chris Gimenez, who has spent three separate tours in the Indians organization, made the Twins roster out of spring training as the club’s backup catcher. And much as the Indians saw last season, catching is not the only thing that Gimenez can do.
The catcher has made a pair of appearances on the mound for the Twins this season in blowout losses, working one scoreless inning of relief without giving up a hit, a walk, or a run. He has stranded a pair of inherited runners and has gotten all three outs in the air in his appearances against Detroit and Boston.
At the plate, his production has mirrored that of his time last season in Cleveland, when he helped fill the voids of Roberto Perez and Yan Gomes while they were out with injuries. In 13 games this season for Minnesota, he has hit .212 with a .366 on-base percentage with three doubles and two runs batted in.
SLOW START FOR DOZIER
Brian Dozier is off to a bit of a slow start for Minnesota, hitting .229 with a .328 OBP this season in 27 games. Included in his production are five doubles and five homers with eleven RBI and a team-leading six stolen bases in eight attempts.
Those numbers may not improve much against Bauer, who he has hit .103 against in 29 career at bats with a pair of RBI.
BY THE NUMBERS
Joe Mauer generally sees the ball well against the Indians and has a good track record against this weekend’s starters. He owns a .400 average against Tomlin in his career with nine singles, a double, and four RBI and has never struck out against him in 27 trips to the box. He has hit .355 against Bauer with a homer and six RBI against the Indians’ Sunday starter. In his small sample size against Clevinger, he has two hits in four trips.
Kennys Vargas owns a .538 average against Bauer in his career with two doubles, a homer, and four runs batted in.
Eddie Rosario has four hits against Tomlin in ten plate appearances, including a solo home run.
Miguel Sano is 4-for-13 off of Tomlin with a double, a homer, and three RBI. He doubled and homered off of Clevinger last year in five trips.
Edwin Encarnacion owns a .308 career average and .471 on-base percentage against Santana in his career. Of his eight hits, one is a double and three are home runs with a total of seven walks and seven runs batted in.
Jose Ramirez has seen the ball well against Santana. While hitting left-handed off the righty, Ramirez is 9-for-16 with a double, a triple, and is tied for the team lead against Santana with seven RBI. Batting right-handed off of the lefty Santiago, he is 4-for-10 with two doubles, a homer, and two RBI.
Lonnie Chisenhall has not been able to use the splits to his advantage against Santana. He has just one hit in 19 plate appearances (.059 average) with two RBI.
Gomes has been all-or-nothing against Santana, with two hits and five strikeouts in 12 trips to the plate. The two hits were both for extra bases – a double and a solo home run.
Current members of the Indians roster have combined to hit .300 off of Berrios. Carlos Santana, Francisco Lindor, and Ramirez lead the way with three hits each. Santana leads the way with a homer and three RBI.
Throwing splits out the window, Jason Kipnis is 9-for-26 (.346) against Santiago in his career with a double, a homer, four RBI, and four walks in 30 total plate appearances, but has struck out six times.
ONE MORE BEFORE THE ROAD
The Indians will get back to work on Monday night with the Tampa Bay Rays in town for three at Progressive Field before the Tribe heads back out on the road. The Twins will take Monday off before hosting Colorado and Kansas City in back-to-back home series at Target Field beginning Tuesday night.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images