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Sun, Sep 9, 2012 - 2:10 PM ET
 

Indians-Twins Preview

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Before their current series is over, the Cleveland Indians could find themselves tied for last place in the AL Central.

On Sunday, the Indians play the third of four games against the current last-place club, the Minnesota Twins.

Cleveland's miserable turn in the second half has been compounded by its struggles against Minnesota, which is only two games behind the Indians.

The Twins (57-82) are 8-5 in the season series, winning eight of the last 10 including a 3-0 victory Saturday.

Cole De Vries gave up three hits in six innings while Joe Mauer had an RBI single and Josh Willingham added a sacrifice fly in a two-run third inning.

The Indians (59-80) finished with four hits as they lost for the 18th time in 23 games. They've been shut out five times during that span.

"We hit a lot of fly balls on the wrong day with the wind blowing in," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "We couldn't string any offense together. I think our best chance was in the very first inning when we had first and second, no outs and we didn't do anything.''

Mauer continues to be a source of frustration for the Indians. He's hitting .333 (13 for 39) with 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored over the last 10 meetings between these teams. He's also batting .400 with eight RBIs in his last nine games overall.

Despite Mauer's production, Minnesota (57-82) had lost four of five - including the opener of this series - before Saturday's win.

While both teams play out the string looking toward next year, two pitchers will get another chance to make an impression on their respective clubs.

Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.79 ERA) will take the ball for Cleveland, coming off his first career win in his seventh start of the season and 10th career appearance.

Kluber gave up two runs in six innings of a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Monday.

"He's got good stuff - big, strong kid, throws hard, has a lot of movement,'' Tigers catcher Alex Avila said.

Kluber was similarly effective against the Twins on Aug. 7, allowing three runs - one earned - over six innings of a 7-5 loss. He didn't factor in the decision after a blown save by Chris Perez.

Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 7.94) will make his second career start Sunday for Minnesota.

Acquired off waivers last September, Vasquez made his debut with the Twins on Sept. 1 and allowed five runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-4 loss to Kansas City.

"He pitched pretty good for his first start in the big leagues," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I thought he handled himself well. He got us into the sixth, I think with a chance to win and that's what you're hoping for.''

The right-hander been used entirely as a reliever with Arizona between 2009-11, but the Twins believe he can be a part of their rotation in the future. Vasquez has never faced the Indians.

Tagged: Indians, Twins, Joe Mauer, Esmerling Vasquez

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