While Phil Hughes has pitched very well for the Minnesota Twins of late, Cleveland’s Corey Kluber has been even better.
Looking to win a seventh straight decision Thursday, Kluber can help the Indians to a road series sweep by preventing Hughes from improving to 4-0 in as many starts this month.
Among the major league leaders in ERA, Kluber (13-6, 2.41 ERA) is 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA in his last eight starts and has allowed four earned runs, struck out 55 and held opponents to a .161 average over 47 2-3 innings while going 4-0 in the last six. The right-hander gave up a run, five hits and fanned 10 for the second straight start over 7 2-3 innings of a 2-1, 11-inning victory over Baltimore on Friday.
"I think it’s just kind of getting on a roll and continuing to do what I’ve been doing the previous starts," Kluber told MLB’s official website. "I’m not trying to go out there and do too much or change anything. I’m just kind of trying to stay the course."
He’s 2-1 with a 4.82 ERA in seven starts against the Twins (55-70) and prevailed in his last one — a 12-6 win at Minnesota on Sept. 27 despite yielding six runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Hughes (13-8, 3.76) is 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in five starts against the Indians (64-61), whom he has not faced since 2012.
Minnesota has dropped four in a row since Hughes gave up a run in 7 1-3 innings of a 4-1 victory over Kansas City on Saturday. The right-hander has allowed one run in each outing while winning his three starts this month, and totaled 22 strikeouts with two walks over 20 1-3 innings during that span.
"I feel pretty good right now," he said. "I’ve been in a pretty good stretch."
Hughes will try to cool off the Indians, who have won seven of nine following a four-game skid.
Mike Aviles homered for one his three hits and had two RBIs, and five Cleveland pitchers combined on a six-hitter during Wednesday’s 5-0 victory.
Aviles is batting .250 on the season but .444 in his last eight versus Minnesota. He’s 3 for his last 9 against Hughes.
The Twins starter won’t face Nick Swisher, who underwent season-ending arthroscopic surgery on both knees Wednesday. Swisher, who last played Aug. 9, hit .208 with eight home runs, 42 RBIs and struck out 111 times in 97 games during a disappointing second season with the Indians.
"It’s definitely unfortunate," Aviles said. "Everyone knows the energy he brings and what he brings to the table.
Minnesota’s Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe are a combined 11 for 27 with three homers against Kluber. Though Mauer is batting .344 in nine games since missing more than a month with an oblique strain, Plouffe is 3 for 24 in his last six contests.
With a stolen base Wednesday, Brian Dozier became the sixth player in Twins history to record 20 steals and 20 homers in a season. However, he’s 3 for 28 in his last eight contests.