Tribe Takes on Twins at Target Field in Key AL Central Showdown
Bob Toth | On 15, Aug 2017
Target Field will be the site of one of the biggest American League Central matchups of the season to date as the first place Cleveland Indians take on the second place Minnesota Twins.
The Indians (64-52) won their fourth straight game on their current eleven-game, four-city road trip with a 7-3 victory on Monday behind a quality start from Trevor Bauer and a pair of two-run homers from Edwin Encarnacion. The Indians’ starting rotation has been at the heart of the club’s second half success – the group of starters has won 50 games (first in the AL; tied for second in baseball), is third in the league in ERA at 4.01, and has struck out more batters (773) than any other Major League rotation.
The Twins (59-57) have surged in the standings, aided by recent struggles by the Kansas City Royals. Minnesota acted as both a buyer early in the trading period and then a seller as it appeared to be slipping in the divisional and wild card races, but a strong showing so far in August has put the club right back into contention. The starting rotation is still one of the bigger points of concern, as the team ERA of the staff is 4.89, 12th in the league. The relief staff has done little better and slots in at 13th. The Twins also have to deal with a sub-.500 record at home, something just one other American League team (Chicago) can boast.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Salazar has been the victor just once in four starts off of the disabled list, but that has hardly been his fault. In those outings, he has combined to allow just four runs (1.42 ERA) over 25 1/3 innings with 15 hits and nine walks allowed while striking out 36 batters. Since his return, opposing hitters have batted just .170 against him, with the bulk of the production coming his last time out in a no-decision against Tampa Bay when he allowed seven hits and four walks, but just one run, in five and one-third innings in his only non-quality start since rejoining the rotation. He is 4-3 in his career with a 4.45 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP in eleven starts against the Twins, including a 3-2 mark at Target Field with a 4.04 ERA in seven starts.
Colon started his 20th big league season in Atlanta, but after going 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA and losing four straight decisions, he was released and his career looked to again be on the verge of an end. But instead, the 44-year-old right-hander signed a deal with Minnesota and after a couple of rough outings, he has become a durable pitcher for the club over five starts. He threw a complete game victory over Texas in his first start of August and followed it up with seven shutout innings against Milwaukee to earn back-to-back wins for the first time this season. He has faced the club that drafted and developed him a dozen times in his career, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.81 ERA over 78 innings of work.
After back-to-back starts with five earned runs allowed, Carrasco bounced back in a big way in his most recent start on Friday, combining with the bullpen to shut out the Tampa Bay Rays. Carrasco’s effort was a dominant one – he allowed just two hits and two walks in eight scoreless frames while striking out ten batters for the first time in nearly a month. He has faced the Twins once this season, earning a win with six and one-third innings of one-run ball to improve his career record against them to 3-6 with a 4.43 ERA over 15 total appearances.
Gibson was unable to clear five innings his last time out in a no-decision against Detroit. He was charged with three runs on five hits with a pair of walks in four and two-thirds innings, but needed 96 pitches to get the 14 outs. It will be his fourth start of the season against Cleveland as he looks for his first win against the Indians since 2015. He is 0-2 this season, allowing seven runs (including four homers) over 16 innings with a 1.88 WHIP. For his career, he is 2-5 in a dozen starts with a 5.75 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP.
Clevinger made his best start of the season after an extended absence from the starting rotation due to a lack of need for five starting pitchers. He held the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless over seven innings of four-hit baseball with a walk and a season-high tying nine strikeouts. He looked far more like the pitcher from June and July who was thriving in the rotation and not the one who was tagged for five runs on seven hits and four walks in three-plus innings against Boston on July 31. He is 0-1 in four starts in his career against the Twins with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP.
Berrios’ season started late, but he has been “The Machine” for the Twins this season, picking up ten wins in his 17 starts. He ended a run of six straight decision his last time out. The key for the Tribe against Berrios may be to get to him early – he has been tagged for five first-inning runs in each of his last two outings. His last time out, he allowed six in total on six hits over three and one-third innings against Detroit in a game the Twins would lose late, 12-11. Berrios was sharp against the Indians earlier this season, allowing a run on two hits in seven and two-thirds innings in a win, but he is 2-2 in his career with a 5.31 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
TV (all) – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports North
Radio (all) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; TIBN, Go 96.3 (Minnesota)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NEWS
Cody Anderson (SP) – out for season – right elbow surgery
Michael Brantley (LF) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – right ankle sprain
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (7/9) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Boone Logan (RP) – 60-day disabled list (7/20) – left lat muscle
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (8/2) – right knee patellar tendinitis; to start rehab assignment 8/16
Josh Tomlin (SP) – 10-day disabled list (7/31) – left hamstring
Phil Hughes (SP) – 60-day disabled list (5/22) – right biceps inflammation; symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome
Trevor May (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/22) – recovery from March 2017 Tommy John surgery
Adalberto Mejia (SP) – 10-day disabled list (8/9) – left arm brachialis strain
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
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
TWINS’ STATS and LEADERS
Miguel Sano’s All-Star season has him sitting at the top of the Twins’ leaderboard in homers (26) and RBI (74) this year. On a more unpleasant note, he also leads the club with 162 strikeouts in 455 plate appearances. He has hit just .143 against Salazar in his career, striking out four times and walking three in ten total trips. He has reached base safely five times in nine trips against Clevinger.
Second baseman Brian Dozier is tops on the club with 116 hits and three triples on the season. He is second to Sano with 23 homers and 65 RBI, second to Byron Buxton (20) with 11 stolen bases, and is third on the team with 22 doubles. Dozier has provided plenty of punch for the Twins against Salazar, hitting .414 in his career against him with six doubles, two homers, and seven RBI, but he has struck out nine times in 31 total plate appearances. He has hit just .208 off of Carrasco, but does have three homers and seven RBI to his credit. He has also homered off of Clevinger in his career.
Eddie Rosario leads the regulars with a .296 average on the season. He has 24 doubles (tied for the most on the club), two triples, 16 homers, and 46 RBI. He has two walks and three hits, including a solo homer, in nine career plate appearances against Carrasco.
Joe Mauer and Robbie Grossman each have a .370 on-base percentage. Mauer owns a .429 lifetime average against Salazar with four doubles, a homer, and two RBI and a .440 average against Carrasco with four doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Grossman has four singles and a walk in nine trips against Salazar.
Max Kepler has a pair of homers and four RBI off of Salazar in seven at bats.
INDIANS BY THE NUMBERS
Jason Kipnis has had the most success on the roster against Colon in his career. He is 3-for-9 with two doubles, a homer, and four runs batted in. He has also seen the ball well against Gibson, totaling nine hits (including two doubles and a solo homer) and eight walks in 28 plate appearances for a .607 on-base percentage.
Francisco Lindor has reached base in more than half of his career appearances against Gibson, posting a .550 on-base percentage with a double, eight singles, and a pair of walks in 20 trips. He has two singles and a double with two RBI in ten plate appearances against Berrios. Lindor has hit in seven straight games and has reached base safely in a MLB-leading 27 straight games.
Carlos Santana has the worst batting average (.179) of any current Indians players against Gibson, but he has taken him deep three times while driving in seven runs. Santana has had no problems with Berrios, in contrast, as he has four hits and two walks in eleven plate appearances (.545 OBP) with a triple, a homer, and three runs batted in.
Jay Bruce may have been just what the Indians lineup was lacking. In his first five games, he is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with a pair of doubles and three RBI to end a slump he was carrying with him when joining the organization. He has also walked three times to post a .500 OBP as an Indian. He has taken his former teammate Colon deep twice with four RBI.
Encarnacion is 6-for-15 (.400) against Gibson with a double, three homers, and eight RBI. He has also walked four times to reach base safely in half of his trips to the plate against him.
KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON
The Indians will make the final stop of their four-city tour of the country with a three-game layover in Kansas City, Missouri, as the Royals play host to the Tribe. The Twins will finish their short homestand with a three-game set this weekend with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images