With the way the all-or-nothing Minnesota Twins have been performing at the plate, the Cleveland Indians figure to be in good shape as long as they can keep them in the park.
Carlos Carrasco takes on that difficult task as he tries to avoid his 10th straight defeat Wednesday while handing Minnesota consecutive losses for the first time in August.
Josh Willingham went deep Tuesday to give the Twins (53-64) homers in six straight games, totaling 14 during that span. They’ve scored 23 of their last 24 runs via the home run, but haven’t been able to manufacture much else.
Minnesota went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss, ending its four-game home winning streak. The Twins are 3 for 49 (.061) in those situations over the last six games.
Willingham is 3 for 23 with two homers in that stretch, while Justin Morneau is 5 for 26 with three home runs.
“We can’t rely on home runs all the time,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s nice when we hit them but we’re going to have to drive in some of these runs with less than two outs and a man’s on third.”
The Twins, winners in eight of 12, haven’t dropped two in a row since a four-game skid July 28-Aug. 1. They’ll try to avoid that fate against Carrasco (0-4, 7.75 ERA), who is 0-9 with an 8.49 ERA in his last 12 starts and hasn’t earned a victory since June 29, 2011.
The right-hander went 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA during a three-start stretch before getting sent to the minors July 9. He was recalled Friday and pitched one-hit ball over five scoreless innings of relief in a 5-2 loss to the Angels.
“He was very good,” manager Terry Francona said. “It was good for the whole team’s confidence. Any time you see somebody go out there and do what he did, that’s terrific.”
Carrasco is 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in five starts against the Twins, but allowed three runs, six hits and four walks over 4 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss June 23.
Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson (2-3, 6.43) hasn’t won since July 14, going 0-1 with a 6.41 ERA while allowing seven home runs over his last four starts. He gave up three runs and four hits – including two homers – in 5 2-3 innings before leaving without a decision in a 7-5 win over the White Sox on Friday.
“It’s just something where I’ve got to make sure I stay out of patterns, but at the same time, don’t go away from my strength,” Gibson told the league’s official website. “If my strength is an inside fastball, even if the hitters know it’s coming, I still have to be able to throw it.”
Since pitching six strong innings against Kansas City to win his major league debut June 29, the right-hander has been tagged for 12 runs and 20 hits over 8 1-3 innings in his last two starts at Target Field.
He will, however, be facing an Indians (64-56) team averaging 2.9 runs and batting .188 while dropping seven of nine.
Lonnie Chisenhall (3 for 28), Nick Swisher (6 for 39), Carlos Santana (4 for 40), Asdrubal Cabrera (6 for 48) and Michael Bourn (11 for 62) are among the Indians struggling.
Teammate Ryan Raburn had gone hitless in 12 at-bats over his previous four games before homering Tuesday.