Tribe and Twins Battle at Target Field with AL Central Top Spot on the Line
Bob Toth | On 16, Jun 2017
While things have not gone as planned for the Cleveland Indians this season, the opposite might be said for the American League Central’s top club, the Minnesota Twins (34-29). The Twin Cities representative remains atop the division, holding a two-game lead over the Indians despite being outscored by their opposition this season. Injuries have knocked out several veteran pitchers from the starting rotation, and yet with a patchwork staff, the Twins have continued to chug along. They have held at least a share of the number one spot in the Central since the second week of May.
The Indians (32-31) will need to take advantage of the series’ location this weekend as the two teams meet for a four-game series, with Saturday serving as a doubleheader day for the two clubs to make up a previous rainout. The Twins have not had a ton of success against the Indians, as they have dropped four of the six games played between the two clubs this season. The Indians will need to take advantage of the Twins’ struggles at Target Field this season, as Minnesota is just 14-20 at home, compared to 20-9 on the road.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Despite a short outing in his last start, Carrasco got back in the win column with a 4-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. He lasted five and one-third innings, giving up two runs on seven hits. He has tended to pitch better on the road than at home in his career, but Target Field has not been one of the sites of his success as he is just 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.55 WHIP in seven games (five starts). The Twins in general have been a bad matchup for Carrasco throughout his career – they are responsible for his worst winning percentage (.250) against any American League club and any club that he has faced at least two times. He is 2-6 against Minnesota in 14 appearances, including eleven starts.
The 27-year-old left-hander Turley made his Major League debut on Sunday in a loss to San Francisco. He took the no-decision, going four innings and allowing four runs on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts on 73 pitches. He is a former 50th round draft pick by the New York Yankees in 2008 and is with his fifth organization in the last three years; he has toiled in the minors for the Giants, Chicago White Sox, and Boston Red Sox in addition to the Twins and Yankees. He was 1-3 with a 2.05 ERA in 12 appearances (eight starts) at Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester to start his season.
Merritt will make his fifth Major League appearance and second start when he is added to the roster for Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader. It will be the first time that he graces a MLB mound since his postseason heroics against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series last season. He faced the Twins once in relief last season in his second Major League appearance, throwing a perfect ninth inning in a 9-2 Cleveland win. He has pitched at Single-A Lake County and Triple-A Columbus this season, posting a 7-5 record with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in the two stops.
Mejia will make his ninth start of the season just days before his 24th birthday. The southpaw was originally scheduled to face the Indians earlier this season but rains interfered with that plan. He has yet to face the Indians in his career, but will have to overcome his home field struggles this season – he is 1-1 at home with a 6.56 ERA and a 1.76 WHIP, compared to a 0-1 record with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP on the road.
Clevinger will return to the Indians rotation after being briefly sent down to Triple-A Columbus because of three off days close together eliminated the need for a fifth starter for a stretch of time. It will be his third career start against the Twins after working against them twice in the final two months of last season. He went four and one-third innings in the first outing and four in the second, giving up a total of three runs on nine hits with six walks and six strikeouts.
Wilk, a 29-year-old left-hander, was scooped up by the Twins off of waivers on May 10 from the New York Mets. He has appearance twice in relief for Minnesota this season and has spent time with their Triple-A Rochester affiliate, where he will need to be recalled from and added to both the 25- and 40-man rosters in advance of the game. He allowed three hits and two walks in three and one-third innings of relief in his only previous appearance against Cleveland on May 14.
Sunday, 6/18, 2:10 PM ET – RHP Trevor Bauer (5-5, 5.85) vs. TBD
This matchup for Bauer should pale in intensity compared to his last outing, when he had to go toe-to-toe with Clayton Kershaw and held his ground in a no-decision, allowing two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts over five and two-thirds innings. Bauer entered the season just 1-5 in his career against the Twins, but has turned that mark around this season, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in his two starts against them with 14 strikeouts and three walks in 12 1/3 innings of work.
TV (all games) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports North
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; TIBN, Go 96.3 (Minnesota)
Abraham Almonte (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/16) – right biceps strain; on rehab assignment
Cody Anderson (SP) – 60-day disabled list (4/2) – right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – paternity list (6/16) – expected to rejoin club in Baltimore on 6/19
Mike Clevinger (SP) – expected to be recalled from Triple-A Columbus (6/17)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/14) – left wrist sprain; beginning rehab assignment
Jason Kipnis (2B) – day-to-day – neck soreness
Ryan Merritt (SP) – expected to be recalled from Triple-A Columbus (6/17)
Adam Plutko (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (6/16)
Danny Salazar (P) – 10-day disabled list (6/4) – right shoulder soreness
Justin Haley (P) – 10-day disabled list (5/29) – right shoulder soreness
Phil Hughes (SP) – 10-day disabled list (5/22) – right biceps inflammation
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
Hector Santiago (SP) – 10-day disabled list (6/7) – left shoulder soreness
Adam Wilk (SP) – expected to be added as 26th player for doubleheader from Triple-A Rochester 6/17
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
BIG GAME FOR AN OLD FRIEND
Chris Gimenez, a member of the Cleveland Indians on several occasions throughout his career as a catcher (and pitcher), had himself a game to remember on Thursday in Minnesota’s 6-2 win over Seattle.
He launched a skyscraping three-run home run in the first inning to pace the Twins to an early 5-0 lead and added their final run on his second homer of the game in the third, a laser to left, giving him his first multi-homer game as a big leaguer. His four runs batted in matched his previous career best.
“It was pretty cool. Any time I can get one in my situation is a good thing,” shared Gimenez after the game. “But to be able to get two is pretty cool. Fortunately, I’ve done it in the Minor Leagues but never in the big leagues. I feel like I’ve never got enough at-bats to get on a roll to do that. But I’ll take them when they come.”
The 34-year-old backup backstop signed with the Twins in the offseason and made their club as a non-roster invitee in Spring Training.
Twins hitters have combined to hit .292 in their careers against Carrasco, but Brian Dozier has had minimal success. He has just four hits in 24 career plate appearances against the veteran right-hander, but three of those have left the yard. He has seven career RBI against him. He has been even worse against Bauer, going 4-for-32 in 37 total trips with a double, four walks, and two RBI while striking out five times.
Dozier is 3-for-7 against Clevinger with a solo homer.
Joe Mauer has thrived against Carrasco, notching eleven hits in 22 at bats (.500) with four doubles, a homer, and three RBI. He has hit .353 (12-for-34) against Bauer with a double, a homer, and seven RBI.
Miguel Sano is 4-for-10 (.400) in his career against Carrasco with a double, a walk, and two RBI. He is 2-for-4 against Clevinger with a double and a solo homer. Bauer has had his number throughout his career – in 23 plate appearances, he has walked three times, singled and doubled once, and struck out ten other times for a .100 batting average.
INDIANS IN DETAIL
The Indians have combined for 15 plate appearances against Wilk while getting three hits and two walks. Jason Kipnis has had the most success with a homer and three RBI. Kipnis has performed nicely against the Twins this season, hitting .308 with two doubles and four RBI in three games of work.
While Carlos Santana has struggled through stretches of the season, he has put up strong numbers against the Twins, hitting .333 against them this season with a .407 on-base percentage. He has eight hits against them, including four singles, two doubles, a triple, and a home run and is tied for the team lead in RBI against Minnesota this season with four.
Yan Gomes is hitting .364 against the Twins this season with a double and one run batted in.
Edwin Encarnacion has not taken his best swings against the Twins this season, but the hotter slugger could change that this weekend. In six games this season, he is just 3-for-22 (.136) against Minnesota with two singles, a homer, and four RBI. He has drawn five walks to post a more palatable .321 on-base percentage. He is hitting .500 (10-for-20) over the last week with two doubles, three homers, and six RBI. His strikeout rate in that span has dropped drastically, as he has just three strikeouts and four walks in those 25 plate appearances.
Francisco Lindor has always fared well when facing the Twins. He is a .309 hitter against them lifetime (47-for-152) with seven doubles, three triples, three homers, and 21 RBI. This season, he is hitting just .208 with two doubles, a triple, and two RBI and is in a bit of a funk at the plate, hitting just .167 over the last two series.
With Brantley out of the lineup again, Daniel Robertson has gotten extended playing time in the outfield and has provided the club with some nice energy in his role. He has hit .375 over the last week with a double, his first Major League home run, and three RBI while scoring four times.
Jose Ramirez has picked it back up at the plate, hitting .292 in the last week with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI.
Brantley will miss the series due to the birth of his son, Maxwell. He is permitted three days on the list and is expected to rejoin the Indians in Baltimore for their series with the Orioles. Plutko was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to add even more depth to a bullpen that could see some changes to it with a slew of roster moves hitting Saturday afternoon for the doubleheader.
The Indians will take their show back on the road as they start a four-game set from Baltimore on Monday against the Orioles. The Twins will continue their long eleven-game homestand with three with the Chicago White Sox after Monday’s off day and then hit the road, stopping first in Cleveland for three next weekend.
Photo: Victor Decolongon/Getty Images