Twins-Indians Preview

It’s tough to tell what the Cleveland Indians’ biggest problem

is right now – their recently inability to win at home or their

more protracted ineptitude against the Minnesota Twins.

Cleveland tries to snap its eight-game skid against the surging

Twins on Tuesday night at Progressive Field, where another loss

would hand the Indians their first eight-game home losing streak in

36 years.

Thus far on this seven-game homestand, it’s hard to believe

Cleveland (33-25) won 19 of 21 at Progressive Field earlier this

season. The Indians totaled six runs while suffering through a

four-game sweep against Texas – they didn’t score at all Saturday

or Sunday – before Minnesota came calling Monday.

Despite a pregame meeting, manager Manny Acta batting Grady

Sizemore third for the first time in nearly two years and

seven-game winner Josh Tomlin on the mound, Cleveland couldn’t end

its funk. Asdrubal Cabrera’s first-inning homer gave the Indians a

2-0 lead, but Tomlin struggled through a shaky outing in a 6-4 loss

that was the Twins’ fifth straight win.

“We’ve got to pull everything together,” Cabrera said. “We’ve

got to do it soon. We’re going through a bad time right now.”

They haven’t gone through this bad of a stretch at home since

the days of disco. Cleveland last dropped eight in a row at home

June 8-21, 1975, at the old Municipal Stadium.

That’s a low point it’ll match Tuesday if it can’t suddenly

solve Minnesota (22-37). The Indians have been outscored 47-20 in

losing eight consecutive games against their AL Central rivals.

While Cleveland is mired in a five-game slump that’s dropped its

division lead to 1 1/2 over Detroit, the Twins have shaved five

games off what was a 16 1/2-game deficit.

They’ve given up only 10 runs during their streak, but their

performance at the plate has to be even more encouraging. Minnesota

has scored 6.4 runs per game after coming in averaging an AL-worst

3.5.

“We’ve had a lot of tough losses,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

“There’s a lot of excitement on our bench. There’s a lot better

feeling that we have a chance to win right now. No matter what the

score is we feel we can stay in the game.”

The Twins could be in for another productive night in the

batter’s box if Carlos Carrasco (4-3, 5.18 ERA) continues to

struggle at home. The Indians right-hander fell to 1-3 with a 7.61

ERA in four starts at Progressive Field after surrendering six runs

– all in the fifth and sixth – over six innings in Thursday’s 7-4

loss to Texas.

Carrasco is 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts versus

Minnesota. He left with elbow tightness after allowing two runs in

three innings April 24 at Target Field.

Francisco Liriano (3-5, 5.73) counters for the Twins as he

returns from a brief stint on the disabled list with left shoulder

inflammation. Liriano hasn’t pitched since allowing two runs over

six innings at Arizona on May 22, though the decision to go on the

DL wasn’t made until May 31.

He said he didn’t feel perfect after a bullpen session Saturday,

but proclaimed himself ready to go anyway.

“You’re never 100 percent, but I feel sure I’ll be able to

start,” said Liriano, who has a 3.11 ERA on the road as opposed to

14.73 at Target Field.

Liriano was 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA in four starts versus Cleveland

last season. While Sizemore is a woeful 3 for 22 in their career

matchups, Cabrera is 10 for 17.