Twins-Indians Preview

Eight days of rest didn’t do Scott Kazmir much good in his last

outing.

The Cleveland Indians hope he’s better with six days in between

starts as they continue their playoff push against the visiting

Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

Chasing their first postseason berth since 2007, the Indians

(70-59) trail Oakland by 2 1/2 games for the AL’s second wild-card

spot.

“If you get caught up scoreboard watching, it can’t really help

you out too much,” second baseman Jason Kipnis said.

Kazmir (7-6, 4.39 ERA), who pitched 64 innings for the

independent Sugar Land Skeeters last year, was granted the extra

rest after allowing five runs in three innings against the Los

Angeles Angels on Aug. 9.

The left-hander then surrendered five runs and a season-high 10

hits in five innings of a 7-3 loss to Oakland last Sunday.

“He’s fine. The layoff is good for his arm,” manager Terry

Francona said. “He didn’t command very well. A lot of deep

counts.”

Kazmir has given up seven first-inning runs in his past two

starts. Before his two rough outings, Kazmir was 4-0 with a 1.93

ERA in his previous nine starts.

Two of his three outings against the Twins in 2013 came in that

excellent stretch. Overall, Kazmir has a 1.42 ERA in three starts

versus Minnesota (57-71) this season.

The Twins are hitting .179 off Kazmir in 2013, with Justin

Morneau (0 for 9), Ryan Doumit (0 for 7), Brian Dozier (1 for 9)

and Josh Willingham (1 for 6) especially struggling.

Kazmir will be opposed by a fellow former New York Mets

first-round pick, Mike Pelfrey (5-10, 5.19), who has a 2.31 ERA in

two starts against the Indians this season.

The right-hander will look to record a third consecutive quality

start for the first time since June 8-18, 2011. He surrendered

three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-3 victory over Detroit on

Tuesday.

Through the end of May, Pelfrey had a 6.66 ERA and had lasted

six innings in just two of his 11 starts. Since then, he has a 4.11

ERA, lasting six-plus innings in 8 of 12 starts.

The Indians picked up their second win in nine tries at

Progressive Field on Saturday after winning 11 straight home games

from July 11 through Aug. 1. Kipnis and Carlos Santana hit two-run

homers and Cleveland had five extra-base hits in its 7-2

victory.

“We needed a nice little offensive day like this,” said Kipnis,

who broke out of an 0-for-19 slump and is now hitting .426 with

four homers and 20 RBIs in 14 games against Minnesota this

season.

Nick Swisher had a two-run double on Saturday, just his fifth

hit in 47 at-bats (.106) this season against Minnesota.

The Twins’ bullpen will be short-handed as manager Ron

Gardenhire said Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing are unavailable

following multi-inning outings on Friday and Saturday.