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
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
“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.