Twins-Indians Preview

The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians are well out of the AL

Central race, but they’ll both have a major impact on which team

finishes first.

Their matchup this week could help determine if Minnesota or

Cleveland ends up last.

The Twins will try to snap a three-game skid when they go for a

fourth consecutive victory over the Indians on Tuesday night.

Long out of the playoff conversation, division-worst Minnesota

(60-87) and Cleveland (61-86) head into this final 15-game stretch

with the purpose of evaluating talent and building momentum into

2013.

However, both clubs will play a big role in helping to determine

the division winner, as the Twins face second-place Detroit six

more times and the Indians have six left with first-place

Chicago.

“We want to see some fire at the end here,” manager Manny Acta

told the team’s official website. “Facing the Tigers, the White

Sox, teams that are fighting for a spot, it’s going to be better

for us to judge these guys, because they’re not going to be facing

just callups.”

Cleveland continues its homestand following Sunday’s 7-6 walkoff

win over the Tigers, while Minnesota comes to town after getting

swept by the White Sox.

The Twins have dropped five of six since winning three straight

over the visiting Indians from Sept. 8-10.

“We have a day off that’s much needed,” manager Ron Gardenhire

told the Twins’ official website following a 9-2 loss Sunday.

“We’re starting to get some guys healthy and back on the field,

which is a good thing. We’ve got a road trip through Cleveland and

Detroit, so hopefully we’ll play better baseball on the road.”

The Twins, winners of four of six in Cleveland this season,

should have Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit available for this three-game

set after both returned from injury Sunday.

P.J. Walters (2-4, 6.70 ERA) will make his third appearance

after missing nearly three months due to shoulder inflammation. The

right-hander is 0-2 with a 12.00 ERA since returning after giving

up six runs in four-plus innings of a 10-5 loss to Kansas City on

Wednesday.

Five of the runs Walters surrendered scored in the fifth.

“He couldn’t get an out,” Gardenhire said. “Ball started flying

all over the place. That was one bad inning.”

David Huff (1-0, 0.00) pitched 3 1/3 outstanding innings against

Minnesota earlier this month and will make his first start for

Cleveland in nearly a year Tuesday.

The left-hander has made two appearances – both on the road –

since getting called up from Triple-A Columbus on Sept. 4. In his

first game since throwing 5 2-3 innings of two-run ball in an 8-2

home win over Minnesota on Sept. 24, Huff retired all 10 he faced

and struck out four in a 7-6 victory at Target Field on Sept.

7.

Catcher Carlos Santana has been swinging a hot bat for Cleveland

this month, hitting .316 with team highs of two homers, four

doubles, two triples and 10 RBIs. Santana leads the club with four

home runs and 12 RBIs against Minnesota this season.

He has never faced Walters.

Mauer is 9 for 20 with a homer and a double versus Huff, while

Justin Morneau has six hits – four doubles – in 17 at-bats off the

left-hander.

Morneau has a team-high six homers and 19 RBIs versus Cleveland

this year.

The Twins lead the season series 10-5 and have won 10 of the

last 12 meetings.