Indians-Twins Preview

The Cleveland Indians continue to fall off pace in the AL

Central amid a frustrating series against the Minnesota Twins.

On the bright side, they won’t have to face Francisco Liriano in

the finale of the three-game series Sunday when they try to avoid a

sweep.

Liriano was scheduled to pitch before the Twins dealt him to

Chicago late Saturday night for shortstop Eduardo Escobar and

pitching prospect Pedro Hernandez. Liriano, a former All-Star, is

3-10 with a 5.31 ERA in 22 appearances – 17 starts.

The Indians (50-51) certainly welcomed the move as Liriano was

3-2 with a 1.76 ERA in eight appearances – six starts – versus

Cleveland at home.

Minnesota (42-58) will send Brian Duensing (1-6, 4.86 ERA) to

the mound in Liriano’s place as it tries to complete the three-game

sweep. The Twins followed their 11-0 victory Friday with a 12-5 win

Saturday.

Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer – his 27th home run of the

season – Ben Revere had three hits and two RBIs and Alexi Casilla

matched his career high with four RBIs.

“The offense was pretty much up and down the lineup,” manager

Ron Gardenhire told the Twins’ official website. “Alexi Casilla had

a big game at the bottom of the lineup. Of course, Willingham put

one in the seats again. He just continues to amaze you.”

Willingham has four homers in the last four games and is hitting

.333 with eight homers, 18 RBIs and 13 runs scored since the

All-Star break.

With the loss, the Indians fell 5 1/2 games behind first-place

Chicago in the division and are five back of the wild card. Their

starting rotation has struggled since the All-Star break, compiling

a 6.27 ERA, and Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson allowed a combined

18 runs in 9 2-3 innings in last two games.

“These two games are not exactly the way you wanted to see

things happen,” Masterson said. “But it doesn’t mean we’re done or

out of it.”

Cleveland has lost 10 of 13 since the break and in danger of

falling two games below .500 for the first time since it was 2-4 on

April 13.

Looking to avoid the sweep, the Indians will hand the ball to

Ubaldo Jimenez (8-9, 4.97), who had a promising start his last time

out.

Thee right-hander gave up seven hits in six scoreless innings of

a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Tuesday, although he didn’t factor in

the decision. Jimenez had allowed 13 runs over eight innings in his

previous two starts.

Jimenez is 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in three starts against the

Twins, though this will be his first time facing them this

year.

Duensing, making only his fifth start this year, is 0-4 with a

10.13 ERA over 13 1-3 innings in his previous four. The left-hander

is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 appearances – five starts – versus the

Indians, against whom he’s pitched four scoreless in three relief

appearances this year.