Preview: Twins at Indians
CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is grinding through the worst season of his career, but manager Terry Francona hasn’t lost faith in his second baseman, who is expected to be in the starting lineup Wednesday night, when Cleveland hosts the Minnesota Twins in the third game of a four-game series at Progressive Field.
The two teams have split the first two games.
Kipnis is a two-time All-Star, in 2015, when he hit .303, and in 2013, when he belted 17 home runs, with 30 stolen bases.
He’s had a couple injury-plagued seasons, but in 2018 he’s been healthy, but his batting average has not. Kipnis is hitting just .220. That would easily be a career low for him, but Francona remains loyal to his 31-year-old second baseman.
“He’s understandably looking at (his batting average on) the scoreboard, and not liking what he’s seeing. But he’s still a good hitter,” Francona said. “I told him he’s got to be strong enough to look up at the scoreboard and realize that’s not really you.”
Kipnis’ inconsistent season is reflected in his last three games. In the first two, he was 3-for-6 with one home run and two RBIs. Tuesday night he was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Wednesday’s pitching matchup will be two pitchers who have gone a month since their last wins. Minnesota’s Jake Odorizzi, who hasn’t won a game since July 8, will face Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger, who hasn’t won a game since July 1.
Odorizzi (4-7, 4.60) is 0-1 with a 6.27 ERA in four starts since his last win. That slide is part of a bigger slump in which Odorizzi has won just one of his last 15 starts. In those 15 starts he is 1-5 with a 5.05 ERA.
Odorizzi’s last start came on Aug. 3, a 6-4 Twins win over Kansas City in which Odorizzi did not figure in the decision. In that game his start lasted just 3 1/3 innings, due to a long rain delay. He gave up two runs and four hits, with two strikeouts and no walks.
Wednesday will be Odorizzi’s fourth start against Cleveland this year. In the first three, he was 0-2 with a 9.88 ERA. In seven career starts against the Twins, he is 1-3 with a 6.47 ERA.
Clevinger (7-7, 3.48) has started five games since his last win, and in those five starts, he is 0-4 with a 4.85 ERA, despite averaging 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. In his last start on Aug. 3, a 7-4 Indians loss to the Angels in which he had no decision, Clevinger pitched six innings, allowing three runs and five hits, with six strikeouts and no walks.
In his last start against the Twins, a 7-5 Cleveland win on June 3 in which he received no decision, Clevinger pitched six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and three walks. In eight career appearances against Minnesota, Clevinger is 1-2 with a 4.23 ERA.
Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes, who had missed the previous three games with hamstring tendinitis, was back in the lineup on Tuesday and, according to Francona, will start again either Wednesday or Thursday.
The Twins have activated right-hander Matt Magill from the Paternity List, and have placed right-hander Matt Belisle on the 10-Day disabled list with right knee chondromalacia (degeneration of cartilage).