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Sat, Sep 24, 2011 - 7:05 PM ET
 

Twins-Indians Preview

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If 2011 is indeed Jim Thome's final season in the major leagues, he's going out on a hot streak.

Thome leads the Cleveland Indians into a day-night doubleheader with the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.

After the Indians announced Friday that they would erect a statue of Thome at Progressive Field, the 41-year-old slugger went 3 for 4 with his 604th career homer and three RBIs. However, Cleveland (78-78) needed a pinch-hit walkoff home run from Carlos Santana to notch a 6-5 win and move back to .500.

"It takes a special player to do that on an emotional night when he is honored,'' manager Manny Acta said of Thome. "We wanted to win it badly for him.''

The Indians reacquired Thome - their all-time home run leader with 337 - in a trade with the Twins on Aug. 25, but he got off to a bumpy start by hitting .176 with a homer and two RBIs in his first 10 games.

Now, Thome is batting .433 (13 for 30) during an eight-game hitting streak. Both homers and five of his seven RBIs over that stretch have come against Minnesota.

"Just a magical night,'' said Thome, whose 59 homers against the Twins are his second-most against an opponent. "I didn't know about the statue. That's surreal - as good as it gets. I'm speechless on that one.''

Cleveland has won six straight from Minnesota after losing six of nine to open the season series. It's the Indians' longest winning streak in one season over the Twins since 2007.

Chris Parmalee had three hits including a homer and three RBIs Friday for the Twins (66-96), who need to split their final six games to avoid reaching 100 losses for the first time in 30 years.

Brian Duensing (9-14, 5.29 ERA) will take the ball and make his first start in three weeks in Saturday's opener for Minnesota.

The left-hander went 1-5 with an 8.91 ERA in seven starts from Aug. 2-Sept. 3 before being banished to the bullpen. He's 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three relief appearances since then.

Duensing is 3-1 with a 3.27 ERA in nine career appearances - four starts - versus Cleveland.

The Indians will counter with David Huff (2-6, 4.20), who tries to snap a four-start losing streak.

The left-hander has posted a 7.11 ERA while dropping all four of his outings since beating Oakland on Aug. 29. He was lit up for a career-worst nine runs - five earned - in 2 2-3 innings of Monday's 12-6 loss to Seattle.

Huff pitched seven scoreless innings to beat Minnesota 5-2 in his season debut July 18, improving to 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA against the Twins.

In the nightcap, Minnesota's Scott Diamond (1-5, 4.81) is slated to face the same opponent he faced in his major league debut, giving up four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings of the Twins' 6-3 home loss to Cleveland on July 18.

The left-hander matched career highs by giving up five runs and 10 hits in four innings of Monday's 6-4 defeat to the New York Yankees.

He'll be opposed by Cleveland's Mitch Talbot (2-6, 6.33), set to make his first big-league appearance since July 8. The right-hander hasn't pitched for the Indians since being ripped for a season high-tying eight runs and 11 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 11-7 loss to Toronto.

Talbot was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained lower back during the All-Star break and sent to the minors once his injury healed.

He's 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts versus Minnesota.

Tagged: Indians, Twins, Jim Thome

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