Series Preview #33: Cleveland Indians (51-44) at Minnesota Twins (39-53)

The Cleveland Indians will put Major League Baseball’s longest active winning streak on the line as they begin the second half of the season with a visit to the Twins in Minnesota beginning Friday night.

After sweeping the Kansas City Royals to end the first half, the Indians (51-44) extended their winning streak to four games and pushed their home record to an American League Central-best, 30-19. They trail the Detroit Tigers by one and a half games in the division and the Texas Rangers by three games in the wild card race.

The Twins (39-53) are 21-23 at Target Field this season. They own a 16-11 record against the Indians in the history of their new ball park, which debuted in 2010. The month of July has been unfavorable, at best, for the Twins, as they come into the series with a 3-11 mark, including wins in each of their last two games before the break.

Mike Pelfrey (4-7, 5.55 ERA) will look to end the Indians’ winning streak at 8:10 PM ET on Friday. He won the only appearance of his career against Cleveland earlier this year when he limited the Indians to one run on four hits in six innings. Scott Kazmir (5-4, 4.60) will take the ball for Cleveland. He has not been charged with a loss in any of his last six starts. Jamey Carroll has seven hits in 12 career at bats (.583) against him.

Kevin Correia (6-6, 4.23) and Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.88) will square off in Saturday’s 7:10 PM ET first pitch. Correia has lost both of his previous starts against Cleveland, including one this season. Kluber threw seven and two-thirds innings of three-hit shutout ball against Kansas City in his last start. He has allowed two home runs to Trevor Plouffe in eight career at bats.

Left-hander Scott Diamond (5-8, 5.32) will wrap up the series in the 2:10 PM ET start time on Sunday. He was a perfect 3-0 against Cleveland last season with a 0.78 ERA and will be making his first start against the Indians this weekend. He has allowed three hits to Mark Reynolds, including a double and home run, and four runs batted in. Justin Masterson (10-7, 3.72) pitched into the seventh in his last start, one game removed from his shortest outing of the season.

All three games will be available for viewing on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports North. Similarly, all three games will be broadcast on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the radio affiliates of the Minnesota Twins.

The Indians completed a three-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field to end the first half on a strong note.

Kluber allowed three hits while pitching into the eighth inning and his bullpen teammates secured the Indians’ 12th shutout of the season behind a 3-0 victory on Friday night. Carlos Santana drove in the Indians’ first run in the seventh against the Royals bullpen and pinch-hitter Michael Bourn, batting with the bases loaded, delivered a clutch two-run double to right-center. Cody Allen pitched the ninth for his second career save.

The first grand slam in the young career of Lonnie Chisenhall gave the Indians all of the runs they needed and Kazmir gave the pitching performance Terry Francona needed as Cleveland was victorious by a 5-3 score on Saturday evening. Jason Kipnis put the Indians on the board in the third inning with a sacrifice fly. Chisenhall’s blast in the sixth made it a 5-0 game. Chris Perez closed it out in the ninth for his 12th save of the season.

A back-and-forth game between the Indians and Royals went in favor of the Tribe, 6-4, on Sunday despite a shaky outing from Ubaldo Jimenez. The Cleveland right-hander was removed after allowing eight hits and two walks in four innings. The bullpen saved the day, giving the Indians five scoreless innings on the last day of the first half. The Indians scored on another sacrifice fly from Kipnis and RBI hits from Santana, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Kipnis. Perez earned his 13th save.

Kipnis has been on base in eleven of his twelve games in July. He has hits in ten of those games and is batting .311 on the month.

Brantley and Santana have both heated up just as the Cleveland temperatures have. In July, Brantley is batting .306 with two home runs and nine runs batted in. Santana is batting .317 with five extra base hits and nine runs driven in of his own.

Zach McAllister, on the 15-day disabled list since June 8th with a finger injury that was expected to sideline him two to four weeks, had a successful rehab start on Thursday at Triple-A Columbus. He pitched six innings and did not surrender a run while giving up two hits and two walks. He struck out a pair. He had pitched at least five innings and had allowed three earned runs or less in every start of the season until his final start on June 2nd against Tampa Bay.

Minnesota took two of three from the Yankees in the Big Apple, just a week removed from New York sweeping them in a four game set in Minneapolis.

Hiroki Kuroda and four relievers combined on an eight-hit shutout of the Twins on Friday night, 2-0. Diamond allowed a hit and three walks in three and one-third innings prior to a 73-minute rain delay. Oswaldo Arcia was 0-for-4 at the plate with four strikeouts. Minnesota was 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Sam Deduno (5-4) gave the Twins seven solid innings, allowing a run and six hits in the Twins’ victory over the Yankees on Saturday, 4-1. All four Minnesota runs scored on the long ball, including solo shots from Plouffe and Ryan Doumit earlier in the game and a two-run shot by Pedro Florimon in the eighth. Glen Perkins earned his 21st save.

Ten runs and 14 hits helped Minnesota defeated New York on Sunday, 10-4, giving CC Sabathia his first lost since 2007 when he was a member of the Indians. Kyle Gibson (2-2) gave up three runs, two earned, in five innings. Sabathia lasted only four and earned his eighth loss of the year after giving up eight runs. Just three of the runs charged to Sabathia were earned.

All-Star starting catcher Joe Mauer is batting .321 in July with six doubles and six RBI. He hit .320 in the first half with a .402 on-base percentage.

As a team, the Twins have the second-fewest home runs and second-fewest stolen bases in the American League.

Their starting rotation has the worst team ERA (5.23) and WHIP (1.56) in all of baseball. They have induced a Major League-best 66 double plays, helping to account for the 109 total double plays turned by the team, also the top mark in baseball.

The Indians will head to the Pacific Northwest after the series to take on the Seattle Mariners for three games. The Twins will also head west, flying to Los Angeles to take on the Angels of Anaheim for three games before moving up the coast for four with Seattle.

Photo: AP Photo/Mark Duncan

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