The Cleveland Indians recently stood atop the AL Central as one
the season’s pleasant surprises.
Poor performances from the starting rotation have quickly
changed that, and Joe Mauer and the AL-worst Minnesota Twins would
like to continue capitalizing.
Justin Masterson will try to rebound from his worst outing of
the year and help the Indians re-establish their dominance of the
Twins in Sunday’s series finale at Progressive Field.
Cleveland (28-24) led the Central by 3 1-2 games as recently as
May 24, when Masterson (2-4, 5.14 ERA) outpitched reigning AL MVP
and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander in a 2-1 win over Detroit.
The Indians have dropped six of eight since, due in large part
to a rotation that has compiled a 9.52 ERA and a .343 opponent
batting average in that stretch, which has dropped Cleveland 1 1-2
games behind the Chicago White Sox.
Derek Lowe gave the Indians a strong outing in Friday’s series
opener, throwing 6 2-3 innings of a 7-1 victory over Minnesota
(19-33), but Cleveland’s rotation backslid again Saturday as Josh
Tomlin gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 7-4
Masterson’s last performance was even worse.
The right-hander allowed seven runs in the first two innings
Tuesday against Kansas City. He settled down and limiting the
Royals to one run in the next five frames, but the damage was done
and he got charged with an 8-2 loss.
“I’m glad he settled down, because it could’ve gotten ugly,”
manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official website. “But he
pitched pretty well at the end. Unfortunately, it was too late for
us. He started the season shaky and then he put a few good starts
Masterson went 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in five starts against the
Twins last year, and Mauer is 2 for 14 against him over the last
Mauer had three hits – including a homer – and three RBIs in
Saturday’s win, breaking out of an 0-for-10 slump over his previous
three contests. He’s hitting .355 in his last 23 games at
The Twins will give the ball to Scott Diamond (3-1, 2.27), who
is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in his last three starts after throwing 14
scoreless innings over his first two following his recall from
Diamond didn’t get a decision Monday, allowing three runs and
nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of Minnesota’s 5-4 win over Oakland.
The left-hander went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against
the Indians last year, allowing two hits including a double in
three at-bats to Michael Brantley.
Brantley is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, during
which he’s batting .357 with 10 RBIs. The longest hitting streak of
his career lasted 19 games from Aug. 30-Sept. 19, 2010.