Baseball returns to the shores of Lake Erie this weekend as the Cleveland Indians welcome the Minnesota Twins into town for the first three of 19 games over the 2014 season.
The Twins claimed the finale of their season opening series with the White Sox in Chicago on Thursday afternoon. They lost the opener on Monday by a 5-3 final to Chicago’s Chris Sale. They dropped a 7-6 result in eleven innings on Wednesday after Samuel Deduno balked and threw a pair of wild pitches to push across the winning run. Minnesota won the third game after scoring a pair of runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to edge out Chicago by a 10-9 score.
The Indians took two of three games from the Oakland Athletics to open up the season. They earned a 2-0 Opening Day victory with two runs in the ninth off of A’s closer Jim Johnson on Monday. Tuesday’s game was postponed by rain and replayed on Wednesday as part of a day/night doubleheader. Former Tribe member Scott Kazmir dominated the Cleveland bats in a 6-1 victory in the first game. The Indians battled back with three runs in the ninth off of Johnson again after an early deficit and a rough start from Zach McAllister to prevail, 6-4.
Danny Salazar will make his second consecutive start in front of a sellout crowd at Progressive Field, last appearing for the AL Wild Card loss against Tampa. He was 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 regular season starts last year. Mike Pelfrey will go for the Twins. He was 5-13 for Minnesota last year in 29 games. Game time for the Home Opener is scheduled for a 3:05 PM ET first pitch.
Carlos Carrasco makes his return to the rotation in Saturday’s 1:05 PM ET start. He was 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in 15 games last season, including seven starts. The Twins will start Kyle Gibson. The righty was 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in ten starts in 2013.
Justin Masterson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his second start of the season on Sunday at 1:05 PM ET after throwing seven shutout innings in a no decision Monday against the Oakland A’s. Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 7.50) lost his opening day and first start for the Twins on Monday, allowing five runs on ten hits in six innings of work.
Friday’s and Sunday’s games will be aired on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Fox Sports North. Saturday’s game will be shown on Fox Sports 1. Radio broadcasts will be available on the affiliates of both the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Twins Radio Network.
OPENING DAY FESTIVITIES
Friday’s Home Opener will mark the 21st season debut at Progressive Field and the 22nd straight Home Opener sellout, dating back to the last season for the Indians at Cleveland Municipal Stadium.
The Indians are 58-55 all-time in Home Openers, including 10-10 at Progressive Field. They have dropped their last five Home Openers.
Gates open at 1:00 PM. The Indians recommend and encourage fans to be in the park and seated for pregame activities, including a variety of tributes and the throwing of the ceremonial first pitch.
Rally Alley will again be a part of the day’s festivities, starting at 12:00 PM from Larry Doby Way. Music, street performers, live radio and television broadcasts, and alumni autograph sessions are just a portion of the event.
The Twins activated left-hander Brian Duensing from the Paternity List on Thursday. Right-hander Michael Tonkin was optioned back to Triple-A Rochester.
The Indians announced on the morning of the Opener that the club had come to terms on a six-year, $52.5 million extension with All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. The deal includes a club option for a seventh season. The contract covers this season, his next three arbitration years, and the first two years of free agency.
The Indians optioned C.C. Lee back to Triple-A Columbus. He had been recalled as the 26th player on the roster for Wednesday’s doubleheader. Outfielder Michael Bourn has been sent to Columbus on a rehab assignment. Designated hitter Jason Giambi remains on the 15-day disabled list after fracturing a rib during spring training.
RANDOM STATS OF THE SERIES
Designated hitter/first baseman Chris Colabello is off to a hot start for the Twins. He has hits in all three games so far this season and drove in six runs with a pair of doubles in Thursday’s win over the White Sox.
Twins’ hitters have had some success in limited at bats against Salazar. As a club, the current roster is 3-for-10 with home runs from Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe.
Dozier is 6-for-11 in his career against Masterson (a .545 average) with a .688 on-base percentage.
All eight players on the Twins’ roster to bat against Carrasco have registered hits. Joe Mauer has been the most productive of the bunch, logging five hits in eight at bats (.625 average). Jason Kubel has struck out in four of his eight plate appearances against him.
The Indians as a team have hit .194 lifetime off of Pelfrey. Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, and Kipnis have combined to hit 3-for-23 (.130) against the 6’7” righty. He is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in three career starts against the Indians.
Brantley’s consecutive errorless game streak ended in Wednesday’s nightcap at 247. Moved over to center field for Nyjer Morgan, he and left fielder Ryan Raburn miscommunicated on a fly ball that glanced off Brantley’s glove. The runner reached on the two-base error and later scored.
The two franchises have shared some of the greats of the game. Amongst the former players inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame to play for both the Cleveland and Minnesota organizations are Bert Blyleven, Dave Winfield, and Steve Carlton.
Pitchers Stan Coveleski and Early Wynn and outfielder Sam Rice played for the Indians and the Minnesota franchise when it was in Washington as the Senators prior to the 1961 season. Pitcher Walter Johnson played exclusively for the Senators from 1907 to 1927 and managed the club after his playing career before leading the Cleveland dugout from 1933 to 1935, preceding his induction as part of the inaugural Hall of Fame class of 1936.
With their six game road trip to start the season over, the Twins will head home and host the Oakland Athletics at Target Field for three games in four days, beginning Monday afternoon. The Indians will welcome the San Diego Padres back to town on Monday for just the third time in the two clubs’ histories and their fourth series overall.
Photo: Joshua Gunter/Cleveland Plain Dealer