First Place Indians Continue Pursuit of AL Central Crown Versus Rival Twins

The trade deadline has come and gone and both the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians had some activity over the course of the last few days.

The Indians (60-42) upgraded their bullpen and added a bit of versatility to their bench while bringing a three-game winning streak into their series with the Twins. The Indians are 4-1 on their current nine-game homestand, with four to play this week against Minnesota. They swept the Oakland A’s over the weekend after splitting with the Washington Nationals at the beginning of this lengthy stretch of play from Progressive Field.

Minnesota (40-64) took two of three over the weekend from the Chicago White Sox, including a wild walk-off walk in the 12th inning on Friday night. They went 3-3 on their recently completed six-game homestand as they were swept in two by the Atlanta Braves, won a makeup game against the Baltimore Orioles, and won the series against Chicago.


Salazar - AP Photo/Ron Schwane
Salazar – AP Photo/Ron Schwane

Monday, 8/1, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Jose Berrios (1-1, 10.20 ERA) vs. RHP Danny Salazar (11-3, 2.97)

Berrios made his MLB debut against the Indians back on April 27. He took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits in four innings. Salazar allowed three runs on three hits in four and two-thirds innings against the Twins in his only start against them this season, but walked four batters while struggling with control. He was 2-1 last season and is 3-2 in his career in eight starts against Minnesota.

Tuesday, 8/2, 7:10 PM ET – RHP Kyle Gibson (3-6, 4.54) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.45)

Gibson allowed four runs on ten hits over six innings in his lone start against Cleveland this season. He is 2-1 in his career at Progressive Field. Carrasco won his only start against Minnesota this year, allowing two runs on four hits over six and two-thirds innings for his first win over the Twins since 2011.

Wednesday, 8/3, 7:10 PM ET – TBA vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (7-4, 3.64)

Wednesday’s starter Ricky Nolasco was dealt at the trade deadline to the Los Angeles Angels for Hector Santiago. He had a pair of no-decisions this season against the Tribe. Bauer is 1-4 in nine career starts against Minnesota with a 5.01 ERA. He has pitched against them twice this season with a 0-1 record and a 4.26 ERA.

Thursday, 8/4, 12:10 PM ET – LHP Tommy Milone (3-3, 5.13) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (11-3, 3.43)

Milone has thrived in his career at Progressive Field, posting a 2-1 record with a 0.96 ERA in three starts. He is 3-1 lifetime against Cleveland in seven starts. Tomlin evened his career mark against Minnesota to 4-4 in 13 games (ten starts) with a pair of wins in three starts this season. He has a 3.72 ERA on the season and a 1.03 WHIP against them.


TV – Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); Fox Sports North (all); MLB Network (out-of market; Thursday)
Radio (all games) – Cleveland Indians Radio Network; Go 96.3, Treasure Island Baseball Network


Michael Brantley (LF) – 60-day disabled list (May 10) – right shoulder inflammation, right biceps tendinitis
Joey Butler (OF) – designated for assignment from Triple-A Columbus (July 31)
Joe Colon (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 22) – right shoulder inflammation
Yan Gomes (C) – 15-day disabled list (July 17) – separated right shoulder
Brandon Guyer (OF) – acquired in trade with Tampa Bay Rays (August 1)
Tommy Hunter (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 16) – non-displaced lower back fracture
Nathan Lukes (OF – Lynchburg) – traded to Tampa Bay (August 1)
Jeff Manship (RP) – 15-day disabled list (July 27) – right wrist tendonitis
Andrew Miller (RP) – acquired in trade with New  York Yankees (July 31)
Jhonleider Salinas (P – Arizona League) – traded to Tampa Bay (August 1)
Juan Uribe (3B) – designated for assignment (August 1)

Fernando Abad (RP) – traded to Boston Red Sox (August 1)
Phil Hughes (SP) – out for season – recovery from July 2016 rib surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome
Pat Light (P) – acquired in trade from Boston Red Sox (August 1)
Ricky Nolasco (SP) – traded to Los Angeles Angels (August 1)
Glen Perkins (RP) – out for season (April 11) – recovery from June 2016 left shoulder surgery
Trevor Plouffe (3B) – 15-day disabled list (July 2) – fractured left rib
Jorge Polanco (IF) – recalled from Triple-A Rochester (July 29)
Hector Santiago (SP) – acquired in trade with Los Angeles Angels (August 1)


Team Record Win % GB Streak
 Cleveland  60-42  .588  –  W3
 Detroit  57-48  .543  4.5  W6
 Chicago  51-54  .486  10.5  L1
 Kansas City  49-55  .471  12.0  L4
 Minnesota  40-64  .385  21.0  W1


The Indians and Twins met to start the second half and Cleveland came away victorious in two of the three contests. The middle game was lost via walkoff, the third time the Twins have beaten the Tribe that way this year.

Dozier & Grossman - AP Photo/Paul Battaglia
Dozier & Grossman – AP Photo/Paul Battaglia


Possibly sparked by a slower first half and failing to make the All-Star team, Brian Dozier has played like a man possessed since the break, hitting .323 with five home runs and eleven RBI. He leads the club with 20 hits and eleven runs scored since the All-Star festivities.

For the season, he is hitting .259 with a .339 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, three triples, 19 homers, and 54 RBI. He is the team leader in runs scored, doubles, homers, and RBI.


First baseman Joe Mauer is hitting just .191 since the All-Star break, but has a .309 OBP thanks to drawing more walks than strikeouts in that span.

He has surprisingly been limited in his effectiveness against the Indians in 2016, hitting .172 with a .368 OBP in eight games. He has just five hits in 38 plate appearances (including two doubles and one RBI).

In his career, he is a .322 hitter against the Indians with a .411 OBP. His career 12 homers and 68 RBI against Cleveland are the lowest totals he has against any team in the AL Central.


On August 1, 1986, two Minnesota players had milestone moments in their careers, one of whom had strong ties to the Indians.

The late Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett hit for the cycle against the Oakland Athletics. Pitcher Bert Blyleven, a Hall of Famer as well, recorded his 3,000th career strikeout…exactly one year to the day that he was reacquired by the Twins in a multi-player deal with the Indians in 1985.


The Twins have a pair of players who celebrate their birthday on Monday, as Kennys Vargas and Brandon Kintzler were born on August 1.


The Indians announced shortly before 3 PM that they had acquired versatile outfielder Brandon Guyer from the Tampa Bay Rays for a pair of minor leaguers – Lynchburg outfielder Nathan Lukes and Arizona League pitcher Jhonleider Salinas.

Guyer, 30, has spent the season in Tampa Bay with the Rays. He has spent parts of five MLB seasons with the Rays (2011-12, 2014-present) in total. He has hit .241 this season with a .347 on-base percentage, thanks to a Major League leading 23 hit by pitches. Last season, he led the AL in the same statistic with 24.

Guyer’s pluses include the ability to play all three outfield spots and good numbers against left-handed pitching. He owns a career .283/.384/.464 slash against southpaws, including a .344/.488/.594 line this season.

Miller - Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Miller – Mike Stobe/Getty Images


New Indians reliever/closer Miller is 31 years old and is under contract through the 2018 season, giving Cleveland nice back-end bullpen depth with his addition. He is 6-1 this season with a 1.39 ERA and 0.77 WHIP in 44 games. He is 9-for-11 in save opportunities and has struck out an incredible 77 batters in 45 1/3 innings, a rate of 15.3 per nine innings.

He will be used interchangeably with Cody Allen in the late innings.


Tyler Naquin has fared well against the Twins this season, hitting .391 with a .462 OBP and .609 slugging percentage in his rookie campaign. He has appeared in nine games, including seven starts, and has nine hits and nine runs scored. He has a pair of doubles and a homer to his credit.

In 70 games this season, Naquin is hitting .335 with a .399 OBP and .629 slugging mark. He has 12 doubles, five triples, 12 homers, and 32 RBI. In July, he hit .348 with five of the doubles, six of the homers, and 15 runs driven in.


Jason Kipnis had the best month of July in his career last month when he hit .344 with 33 hits (nine doubles, six homers) and 13 RBI.  He was second on the team in homers, tied with Naquin and Carlos Santana and trailing only Mike Napoli’s eight for the month.


Napoli’s eight homers paced the team in the month, as did his 20 RBI, which were the sixth-most in the American League. He hit .270, a solid improvement over the .239 average he had over the first three months of the season. He is now hitting .247 for the year with 24 homers, 16 doubles, and 72 RBI.


Cleveland will hit the road for an uncharacteristically small road trip, especially by this season’s standards, as they head to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series this weekend. The Twins will travel to Tampa Bay to face the Rays for three straight over the weekend.

Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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