Sometimes, the focus has to be more on the short term than on the overall big picture, no matter how close things may seem.
If taking the positive angle, this weekend the Cleveland Indians (77-77) won their series with the Kansas City Royals, the American League Central Division champions and one of the top teams in baseball. If focused on the negative side of the story, the team that could not afford to lose any more games mustered just two hits on Sunday in a must win situation and came up on the opposite side of the win column.
Shutouts bookended the series between the two clubs. The Indians won a 6-0 final on Friday and followed it with a 9-5 win on Saturday, ensuring that Cleveland would win the season series between the two clubs. The Royals won a strange 3-0 ball game on Sunday that featured replay review madness and six innings of no-hit baseball from the KC pitching staff.
The Twins (80-75) went into Detroit and took two of three from the Tigers over the weekend. They lost the series opener, 6-4, on Friday night. They outscored Detroit 13-3 over the next two games, however, winning 6-2 on Saturday and 7-1 on Sunday. They will come to Progressive Field where the Indians have won 15 of their last 20 in Cleveland.
PITCHING PROBABLES and GAME NOTES
Hughes and Kluber will meet up again, having just done so in their last starts. Hughes got the win in that matchup, throwing five scoreless innings in his return from the bullpen. He is 6-3 in his career against Cleveland, including a 2-2 mark this season and a 2-2 mark at Progressive Field in his career. Kluber, who is tied for the AL lead in losses, was finally contained by the Twins in that start. He allowed four runs on five hits in three and two-thirds innings for his first lost in four outings against Minnesota this season. He is 6-3 against them with a 3.49 ERA in 14 starts in his career.
Gibson allowed six runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs, in two and two-thirds in his last start against the Indians. It dropped his career record against the Tribe to 1-2. Anderson is 1-0 against the Twins in two starts. He has allowed seven runs against Minnesota in his young career, tied for the most he has allowed against any one opponent this season.
The Ohio-born Pelfrey has pitched against the Indians three times this season. He has won one of those outings and has walked more Indians batters than he has struck out in 15 2/3 innings of work. This outing could be the last of the year for Carrasco, who has proven many of his doubters wrong with a strong season and several close shaves with no-hitters. His last outing was just such a case, when he allowed just one hit in a complete game shutout over Kansas City on Friday night.
Duffey has taken full advantage of his opportunities since joining the rotation in August. After a less-than-stellar Major League debut against the Toronto Blue Jays, he bounced back against the Indians and limited them to just one hit over six innings in earning his first MLB win. Tomlin faced the Twins in his return from the disabled list in August and has a 2-4 record with a 5.91 ERA against them in his career. It will be his final chance in the 2015 regular season to prove to the Indians that he is worth his price in arbitration following the season and is deserving of a place on the 2016 pitching staff.
TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio; Fox Sports North
Radio – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; Treasure Island Baseball Network
AL WILD CARD STANDINGS
TEAM W-L PCT. WCGB STRK L10
New York 86-69 .555 +4.5 W2 6-4
Houston 82-74 .526 – W2 5-5
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Los Angeles 81-74 .523 -0.5 W5 8-2
Minnesota 80-75 .516 -1.5 W2 5-5
Cleveland 77-77 .500 -4.0 L1 5-5
Baltimore 76-79 .490 -5.5 L3 5-5
Cleveland leads the all-time series between the Washington/Minnesota franchise, 1,116-978.
The Twins hold the edge in the season series, nine games to six, and will have to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Indians to win the season series between the two clubs. The two teams have split six games over the course of the season at Progressive Field.
ON THE MEND and ON THE MOVE
Nick Hagadone (RP) – 60-day disabled list (July 8) – recovery from July 2015 left elbow surgery
Tyler Holt (OF) – claimed off of waivers by Cincinnati (September 27)
T.J. House (SP) – 60-day disabled list (September 4) – left shoulder inflammation
Logan Darnell (RP) – 60-day disabled list (September 25) – pneumonia
Trevor May (SP) – day-to-day (September 23) – lingering left hip injury
Tommy Milone (SP) – day-to-day (September 20) – shoulder fatigue
Ricky Nolasco (SP) -60-day disabled list (June 4) – recovery from July 2015 ankle surgery
Ryan Pressly (RP) – 60-day disabled list (August 2) – right lat strain
DOING THE SPLITS
Francisco Lindor is hitting .471 against the Twins this season. He has 16 hits over nine games, including three doubles and a triple.
Michael Brantley is also, not surprisingly, high upon that list, hitting .375 in ten games. He has 15 hits in those games, including three doubles and a homer, and seven RBI.
The Indians RBI leader this season against Minnesota may surprise some – Lonnie Chisenhall. He has swept the leg to the tune of 15 hits in 14 games and a .294 average. Fourteen of his hits have been singles; the other left the yard. He has driven in a club-high ten runs against the Twins this season.
Torii Hunter has remained a thorn in the Indians’ side once again, hitting .311 against Cleveland with a team-high five homers and 13 RBI. He also has been hit by one pitch, which led him to bark nonsensically at Kluber the last time the two players met.
Brian Dozier has five homers, four doubles, and seven RBI against Cleveland pitching this season.
Eddie Rosario, when not throwing out base runners left and right from the outfield, has hit three homers and three triples against Cleveland this season. Despite hitting .244, he has driven in seven runs.
With the final homestand of the season more than halfway complete, the Indians will bring in the Boston Red Sox for the final series of the season. If things go perfectly during their series with the Twins, they may still be in position to need a 162nd game on Monday, when the Detroit Tigers may have to come back to town to make up a rainout. The Twins will conclude their schedule back at Target Field, where they will host the Royals.
Photo: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel