Series Preview: Minnesota (52-65) vs. Cleveland (58-57)
By Matt Van Wormer
The Indians sent the Tigers out of town after taking two of three from the Motor City Kitties to gain a single game in the Central Division standings and winning their first series since taking two of three from the Cincinnati Reds to start the month of July. Now they welcome in another Central Division foe in Minnesota. There are two big story lines inside Progressive Field. One, the Tribe continuing to attempt to gain ground on Detroit and two, Jim Thome coming back to his first team needing just two home runs for the 600 home run milestone. It will definitely be an exciting weekend down at the ballpark.
Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.71) will be making his second start in four days, the other being his two-inning, rain-shortened outing on Tuesday against Detroit. The Twins will counter with Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71) in the series opener. Pavano has had some success against the Tribe this year, going 1-0 in two starts and giving up just four runs in 13 innings of work. Masterson has been dominant against the Twins this year but has nothing to show for his work. In 15.2 innings, Minnesota has only managed two runs on 13 hits.
Key Matchup: Justin Masterson vs. Justin Morneau (6 for 15, 2 2B, 1 HR) – Friday will be Morneau’s first game back from the disabled list.
On Saturday night, Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08), who had a great outing wasted last Sunday in Texas (seven innings, two earned runs), will take on Brian Duensing (8-10, 4.56). Tomlin is 0-1 in two games against the Twins so far this season. In 12 innings, Tomlin has given up 10 runs. Duensing is 1-0 against Cleveland this year, throwing seven innings of five hit, one run baseball in his second win of the year.
Key Matchup: Josh Tomlin vs. Jim Thome (1 for 3, 1 2B) – Tomlin has the kind of stuff that Thome can hit a long, long way.
David Huff (1-1, 0.51) gets the call on Sunday, taking on Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) who will be recalled from Triple-A today to take Scott Baker‘s (DL) spot in the rotation. It was the Twins who got Huff off to a good start when he was called up on July 18th to start the day-side of the Indians’ double-header in the twin cities. Huff went seven innings, giving up no runs and just five hits. Slowey has not pitched against the Tribe and was used out of the bullpen when he was with the big-league club earlier this season.
Key Matchup: Kevin Slowey vs. Travis Hafner (7 for 22, 2 2B, 2 HR) – Hafner’s last home run came on the first day of the month in Boston but he is hitting .325 in the month of August.
With the Tigers in Baltimore taking on the lowly Orioles, the Indians need to take advantage of their home field and win another series in an attempt to catch up to the Tigers before it is too late. The Erie Warriors are sitting at just one game over .500 and it would be nice to get away from that mark like they were back in April and May.
Photo: Rob Carr/Getty Images