Indians-Twins Preview

The Cleveland Indians have finished at or near the bottom of the

AL Central as the Minnesota Twins have won the last two division

titles. When these Central rivals meet for the first time this

season Friday night 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


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 with a one-game

lead over second-place Kansas City. The Indians were two outs from

building a three-game edge Thursday, but closer Chris Perez allowed

two ninth-inning Royals runs, snapping a personal scoreless streak

of 26 1-3 innings in a 3-2 loss.

Still, Cleveland is off to its best 19-game start since opening

14-5 in 1999.

The Indians continue their seven-game 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 of the season Sunday in a 4-2 win over


“Yes, that’s very great,” Carmona told the Indians’ official

website. “I’ll try to continue to pitch like that and keep


The Indians did not score a run while the sinkerballer was in

the game in his first three outings. Carmona may need some support

at Minnesota, where he’s 0-2 with a 9.69 ERA in his last three


The Twins (7-12) return home following a 3-5 trip that ended

with Thursday’s 3-1 win over Baltimore. Jim Thome hit a solo homer

and drove in two runs, 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 – ignites his bat and a Twins offense that’s scored an

MLB-low 57 runs.

“That’s one thing he can do is swing the bat,” Gardenhire


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

last season.

Minnesota could use continued production from Thome and Cuddyer,

with Joe Mauer (leg weakness) on the disabled list and Justin

Morneau (flu) and Delmon Young (ribs) questionable for the series


While the Twins’ offense tries to get untracked, Brian Duensing

(1-0, 3.60) hopes to shut down the Indians, who have an AL-best 99


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 Bay.

“We’ve been struggling a little bit lately,” Duensing said after

the victory. “We got that win today and hopefully we’ll start


Minnesota has won each of his three starts this season. Duensing

is 2-0 with a 4.05 ERA in two starts against Cleveland.

The Indians have been outscored 26-8 during their losing streak

in Minnesota.