The Cleveland Indians will need to show some improvement at home if they’re going to return to the postseason for the first time in six years.
The Indians attempt to win for just the second time in nine tries at home Saturday night as they continue their series with the Twins.
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Cleveland (69-59) is 2 1/2 games behind Oakland for the AL’s second wild-card spot, while Baltimore is two back. The race could be even tighter if not for the Indians losing seven of their past eight games at Progressive Field following an 11-game winning streak there during which they hit .297 and averaged 5.3 runs.
They’re batting .205 average while scoring 2.8 runs per game since.
Those issues continued in the opener of this three-game set Friday, when Cleveland mustered six singles in a 5-1 loss to Minnesota following a 6-3 road trip.
“We ain’t lost no momentum,” center fielder Michael Bourn said. “We’re all right. We just lost a game, that’s all that was. We’ll be back (Saturday) and be ready to play.”
Jason Kipnis leads the Indians with a .283 average and 72 RBIs, but he’s batting .158 (6 for 38) with 11 strikeouts while driving in two runs over his last 10 home games. The second baseman is 0 for 10 in the last three contests, including an 0-for-4 performance while fanning twice Friday.
He had a .338 average with 21 RBIs over his previous 19 home meetings with the Twins.
The Indians will send Zach McAllister (6-7, 3.59) to the mound as he switches spots in the rotation with Scott Kazmir, who is getting an extra day of rest.
McAllister is looking to capitalize on another meeting with the Twins.
The right-hander allowed two runs – one earned – with seven strikeouts in six innings of a 5-2 win at Minnesota on Aug. 13, one of Cleveland’s two victories in that three-game set. He had posted an 8.00 ERA while losing each of his three previous starts against the Twins.
He enters this one coming off another solid performance in a 5-2 road victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, when he yielded one run in 6 1-3 innings.
The Twins are 29-37 on the road, but have won six of their last eight.
They’re scheduled to recall Liam Hendriks (0-1, 3.94) from Triple-A Rochester and start him in place of an ineffective Kyle Gibson.
This is Hendriks’ third stint with the Twins this year, and he’s made three starts – all on the road. His most recent outing came in a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 9, when he allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“He threw the ball well for us,” manager Ron Gardenhire told the team’s official website. “He used all his pitches, changed speeds. So now we’ll see if we can do it again.”
Hendriks’ return comes after he compiled a 1.93 ERA over his last two starts with Rochester.
“I was throwing the ball well and getting ahead of guys,” Hendriks said. “It was fun to pitch, and hopefully I can bring that up here and keep the roll going.”
He’s 1-0 with a 5.29 ERA over three career starts versus the Indians.