The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins open up a four-game American League Central series with a doubleheader Monday at Target Field
Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
Cleveland split four games in Baltimore to start its road trip after the All-Star break, including an 8-3 defeat Sunday afternoon. “These guys have done a very good job of staying afloat, fighting and holding their ground,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “We’re just going to fight through it.” The Tribe may be without talented center fielder Grady Sizemore for awhile, as he limped off the field with an apparent right knee injury. The club is still in the thick of the pennant race, tied atop the AL Central standings with the Detroit Tigers. This is a very important series in facing off against the surging Twins, who are now just five games out. Cleveland is 38-29 versus right-handed starters this year.
Indians starting pitcher David Huff will make his 2011 season debut and has posted an 8-3 record and 3.86 ERA over 17 outings for Triple-A Columbus. “He’s been pitching very well,” Acta commented. “He deserves to come up. He’s made some adjustments down there and they’re happy with the progress he has made.” The left-hander suffered through a horrendous 2010 campaign, ending the year with a 2-11 mark and 6.21 ERA, surrendering 14 home runs in 79 2/3 innings. Huff will be making his eighth career start versus the Twins, coming in with a 2-5 record and 6.57 ERA, as they have hit .323 against him.
Minnesota picked up a series win over Kansas City with consecutive 4-3 victories and has won seven of its last 10 games overall. The Twins are in great position to continue their current form, winning nine of 10 meetings over Cleveland. including six straight meetings at Target Field. “Maybe this momentum will carry us over into the next series,” commented Twins designated hitter Jim Thome. “You don’t win every ballgame, but the thing this time of year is you want to win series.” The club is now 19-12 versus division opponents and will be looking to improve upon its 16-11 mark versus left-handed starters in today’s opener.
Twins starting pitcher Anthony Swarzak was originally slated to toe the rubber in the nightcap, but has been moved up due to Scott Baker being placed on the disabled list. The right-hander enters with an even 2-2 record and 3.37 ERA in 11 appearances (four starts). Swarzak is coming off one of his best outings of his career, picking up a 6-3 road victory over the White Sox on July 10, giving up just a single run and four hits in six frames. In two prior outings versus the Indians, he is 0-2 with a horrific 12.38 ERA, as he’s allowed a .436 batting average in those contests.
Bettors will likely back the Indians due to their 9-2 record in the opener of a doubleheader, while the Twins are 1-6 in Swarzak’s last seven home starts