The Indians make their first trip to the Twin Cities this season as the Minnesota Twins host Cleveland in a four-game weekend set.
The Indians (29-25) are riding a season-high tying five-game winning streak coming into the series with the Twins after sweeping the Chicago White Sox during the week and taking the final two games of last weekend’s series with the world champion Houston Astros. The Tribe will finish up the May slate of games in the series opener, closing out a month during which they led all of baseball in runs scored. After 27 games, they have scored 170 in the month, 28 more than the next closest club (Boston – 142). They hold a four-game lead over second place Detroit and a five and a half game lead over Minnesota.
The Twins (22-29) have failed to meet expectations this season while dealing with a slew of injuries all across their roster. They have played better in May, entering the series with a 13-14 record with a +15 run differential after a 9-15 March/April with a 35-run difference to the negative. The Twins have dropped two straight and six of their last seven, including a pair of walk-off losses in extra innings during their recently completed six-game road trip through Seattle and Kansas City.
PITCHING PROBABLES and NOTES
Bieber will celebrate his 23rd birthday in style by making his Major League debut on Thursday in the series opener. Adding him to the roster allowed the Indians to get some starters some additional rest and frees the club up from needing a fifth starter for nearly two weeks. Bieber has pitched extremely well in a pair of stops in the Indians farm system this year, posting a 5-1 record with a 1.10 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP in ten games. His last start for the Triple-A Clippers was one he will not forget – he recorded a seven-inning rain-shortened no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves’ Gwinnett affiliate.
The 28-year-old right-hander Odorizzi has been a bright spot in the Twins rotation this season in his first season with the club after five years with the Tampa Bay Rays. He has just one decision in the month of May, earning a win on May 8 against St. Louis, despite posting a 2.63 for the month thus far. Length in starts has been an issue for the seventh-year pro, who is averaging just over five innings per start this year. He faced the Indians once in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on April 17, when he allowed four runs on six hits (including a season-high three home runs) with a walk and six strikeouts.
Carrasco and Berrios will meet in a rematch of game two of the series between the Indians and Twins held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, earlier this season. In that outing, Carrasco threw seven innings of shutout, three-hit baseball in a no-decision. He went 2-2 in the month of May, making three quality starts while allowing eleven earned runs in his first and last starts of the month. He entered last season with a 2-6 mark in his career against the Twins, but corrected those bad marks with a 3-0 record in three starts in 2017 with a 0.92 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
Berrios will make his second start of the season after taking a no-decision in his return home to Puerto Rico in that earlier two-game set in San Juan. The 24-year-old 2012 first rounder threw seven shutout innings in that start against the Indians, giving up three hits and no walks while striking out five in his only no-decision of the year. He has been one of the better starters in the Twins rotation this season, making six quality starts. Five times this season he has allowed three hits or less while working in seven innings or more. In his three seasons in the Majors, he has faced the Indians five times, going 2-2 with a 3.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.
The 27-year-old Bauer was on pace for an impressive start his last time out before the bullpen allowed a couple of his runners to score. He allowed a season-high tying four earned runs in just his third non-quality start in eleven outings this season in a 127-pitch no-decision against Houston. He had previously fired 14 scoreless innings in a pair of wins against Detroit and the Chicago Cubs. Bauer began his career with a 1-5 record against the Twins in eleven starts, but has turned that around in the last season. He went 3-1 against them in five games in 2017, posting a 3.71 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.
Lynn, a first rounder in 2008, joined the Twins as a late offseason addition after spending his entire career with the St. Louis Cardinals. Like Odorizzi, pitching deep into games has been a rarity this season for Lynn as he has averaged exactly five innings per start. Two of his four outings into the sixth inning or later have been in his last two starts. He has won both of those outings in quality efforts, throwing six and two-thirds scoreless innings against Detroit on May 22 before allowing two runs on six hits in six innings in a win over Kansas City. He won his only career start against the Indians in 2015, throwing six shutout innings.
Clevinger got back into the win column after back-to-back tough outings against the Houston Astros. Walks crept back into his arsenal in those outings, but he cut it back down to two free passes in his win over the Chicago White Sox earlier this week. He allowed just one run on four hits in six and two-thirds innings, striking out seven. It will be the eighth time that Clevinger has faced the Twins and his fifth start – he is 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in his career with 15 walks in 21 2/3 innings.
The 30-year-old Gibson, a 2009 first rounder, has spent his entire career in the Twin Cities and has plenty of experience but little success against the Indians in his career. He lost in three of his four starts against the Indians last season to fall to 2-6 in his career in 13 starts with a 5.82 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP. He has made ten consecutive starts without a win this season, posting an 0-3 record in that span. One of his best starts this season came his last time out, when he blanked the Royals over seven innings on five hits and a walk while striking out eight in a no-decision.
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all but 6/2); Fox Sports North (all but 6/2); MLB Network (out of market: 5/31); FS1 (6/2)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network (CLE); WCCO 830, Treasure Island Baseball Network (MIN)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES
Cody Anderson (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/25) – recovery from April 2017 UCL surgery
Shane Bieber (SP) – contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus (5/31)
Lonnie Chisenhall (RF) – 10-day disabled list (4/8) – right calf strain; on rehab assignment
Oliver Drake (RP) – claimed off of waivers by Los Angeles Angels (5/31)
Nick Goody (RP) – transferred to 60-day disabled list (5/31) – right elbow inflammation (since 5/3)
Brandon Guyer (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/20) – left cervical strain; on rehab assignment
Ryan Merritt (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – left knee sprain
Andrew Miller (RP) – 10-day disabled list (5/26) – right knee inflammation
Tyler Naquin (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left hamstring strain
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day disabled list (3/26) – right shoulder rotator cuff tendonitis; shut down
Ben Taylor (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (5/31)
Bradley Zimmer (CF) – 10-day disabled list (5/12) – left rib contusion; on rehab assignment
Byron Buxton (OF) – 10-day disabled list (5/30) – left great toe fracture
Jason Castro (C) – 10-day disabled list (5/5) – recovery from May 2018 right meniscus surgery
Tyler Duffey (P) – recalled from Triple-A Rochester (5/31)
Joe Mauer (1B) – 10-day disabled list (5/19) – cervical strain/concussion-like symptoms
Trevor May (P) – 60-day disabled list (2/20) – recovery from March 2017 Tommy John surgery
Michael Pineda (SP) – 60-day disabled list (2/17) – recovery from July 2017 Tommy John surgery
Jorge Polanco (UTL) – restricted list (3/18)
Ervin Santana (SP) – 60-day disabled list (3/29) – right third finger surgery
Aaron Slegers (P) – optioned to Triple-A Rochester (5/31)
TWINS STATS AND NOTES
While the Indians have several candidates for the player of the month award for their efforts in May, the Twins have a significant option in outfielder Eddie Rosario. In 27 May games, he has hit .366 with a .388 on-base percentage and a .625 slugging mark with eleven doubles, six homers, and 20 RBI. His production in all of those stats are tops on the Twins among regulars for the month. He leads the club in several hitting stats this season, including his .305 average, his nine homers, his 32 RBI, and his five stolen bases.
Brian Dozier, playing through what very well could be the final year of his contract with the Twins, has scuffled some at the plate this season. In 51 games, he is hitting .237 with a .311 on-base percentage with ten doubles, a triple, eight homers, and 21 RBI.
Miguel Sano has been limited to just 26 games this season, hitting six doubles, six homers, and 20 RBI in those games while batting .208. He was activated from the disabled list a week ago after missing more than three weeks with a left hamstring strain.
TRIBE BY THE NUMBERS
Jose Ramirez enters the final day of the month with the second-most home runs hit in May in the American League, with ten in 26 games. He trails Boston’s J.D. Martinez, who has slugged 13 in May. For the season, Ramirez is tied for third in the league with 17 and has driven in a team-leading 40 runs while pushing his batting average steadily back to an even .300.
Despite spending his entire career until last season outside of the AL Central, Edwin Encarnacion has hit well against the Twins and in Minnesota. He has homered in 12 of 33 games at Target Field while hitting .292. He is a .271 hitter against the Twins in his career with 20 homers in 68 games, the most he has hit against any team not a member of the AL East, where he spent his most successful big league seasons. He comes into the four-game series with a modest six-game hitting streak.
Another preview, another update on the hitting streak of Michael Brantley, which grew to a Major League season-high 19 games with five hits in the three-game series with the White Sox during the week. He is the American League leader in RBI in the month of May with 26 and has hit .342 with a .398 on-base percentage and .595 slugging percentage with seven doubles and seven homers during his explosive effort. Brantley enters the series second in the AL with a .343 average for the season, trailing Boston’s Mookie Betts and his .359 average. He is second on the club and eleventh in the AL in RBI with 36.
Yonder Alonso has hit in a season-high seven straight games, putting up a .464/.531/.786 slash with 13 hits (including a pair of homers) while scoring seven times and driving in nine.
QUICK TRIP HOME
The Indians will have another bizarre hiccup in their schedule, as they take Monday off before a brief two-game interleague homestand against the Milwaukee Brewers. Another off day will follow Thursday before the club opens a seven-game roadtrip with three games in Detroit against the Tigers and a four-gamer in Chicago with the White Sox.
The Twins will stay put at home to continue their eleven-game homestand as they welcome in the Chicago White Sox for four in three days after an off day of their own on Monday. The Los Angeles Angels will chase the Sox into town next week.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images