The Cleveland Indians have finished at or near the bottom of the
AL Central as the Minnesota Twins have won the last two division
When these rivals meet for the first time this season Saturday
at Target Field, the Indians will be the club on top with the Twins
trying to climb out of the cellar.
Cleveland tries to snap a five-game skid in this matchup as
Minnesota goes for its fifth consecutive home win in the series
after Friday night’s opener was postponed due to inclement
After tying for last in the Central in 2009 – 21 1/2 games
behind the Twins – the Indians went 69-93 last season and finished
25 back of Minnesota, which won 12 of 18 meetings between the
Cleveland (13-6), though, enters this contest in first place in
“They’ve been the best team in our division the past few years.
The title chase still runs through Minnesota,” Indians manager
Manny Acta said. “It’s still very early. Way too early. I know
everyone would rather be on top right now.
“That’s normal, but it’s way too early. Let’s not forget these
guys were trailing the White Sox by like five games after the
All-Star break, and they won the division relatively easy.”
The Indians were two outs from extending their division lead
Thursday, but closer Chris Perez allowed two ninth-inning runs,
snapping a personal scoreless streak of 26 1-3 innings in a 3-2
loss to second-place Kansas City.
Still, Cleveland is off to its best 19-game start since opening
14-5 in 1999.
“To me it’s about consistent baseball,” Acta said. “You have to
make sure you don’t get into too many lulls. You have to make sure
that if you have a month where you don’t play .500, it’s not
ridiculously bad. That’s what it’s all about.”
The Indians continue their trip with Fausto Carmona (1-2, 4.74
ERA) on the mound. The right-hander, 1-1 with a 1.25 ERA in his
last three starts, allowed five hits in seven innings and earned
his first victory Sunday, 4-2 over Baltimore.
Cleveland did not score while the sinkerballer was in the game
in his first three outings.
The Twins (7-12) return home following a 3-5 trip that ended
with Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Orioles. Jim Thome hit a solo
homer and drove in two, while Michael Cuddyer went deep for the
second straight game.
Minnesota entered the game with a major league-low six homers,
but manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn’t be surprised if Thome’s blast –
his 591st – gets him going.
“That’s one thing he can do is swing the bat,” said Gardenhire,
whose team has scored an MLB-low 57 runs.
The Indians don’t need to be reminded. The 40-year-old slugger,
who hit a franchise-record 334 homers for Cleveland from 1991-2002,
batted .313 with five home runs and nine RBIs against the Indians
Minnesota could use continued production from Thome and Cuddyer
with Joe Mauer and Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the disabled list and
Justin Morneau and Delmon Young not at full strength.
Morneau (stomach virus) and Young (ribs) weren’t in the lineup
Friday but could return for this game.
While the Twins’ offense tries to get untracked, Brian Duensing
(1-0, 3.60) hopes to shut down the Indians, who are among the AL
leaders with 99 runs.
In his last start, the left-hander helped the Twins snap their
season-high four-game skid with seven strong innings in Sunday’s
4-2 win at Tampa. Minnesota has won each of his three starts.
Duensing is 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts against
The Indians have been outscored 26-8 during their losing streak
at Target Field.