The Cleveland Indians, with their newly-configured bullpen, will host the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night in the second game of their four-game series.
The Twins won game one of the series Monday night as they continued their inexplicable dominance of the Indians.
Minnesota, which is in last place in the American League Central, is 6-4 versus first-place Cleveland, and 6-21 against all the other division opponents. Tuesday night’s pitching matchup will feature Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco (7-4, 2.45) vs. Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson (3-6, 4.54).
It will be the 100th start of Carrasco’s career, and his 11th against the Twins. He is 2-5 with a 4.02 ERA in those 11 starts. Gibson is 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA in eight career starts against Cleveland. That includes a 6-1 loss on July 17 at Target Field in which Gibson gave up four runs and 10 hits.
The Indians acquired left-hander Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees in a trade on Sunday that significantly strengthened the back of the Indians’ bullpen. Miller has experience as both a closer and a setup man. The Indians have closer Cody Allen, who has 20 saves this year and 78 saves over the last three years.
So who will be the Indians’ closer going forward? That will be determined by how each given game unfolds. Manager Terry Francona met with both relievers on Monday, and the decision was made to let the game dictate who pitches the eighth inning and who pitches the ninth.
If the matchups in the eighth inning favor a left-handed pitcher, Miller will pitch the eighth and Allen the ninth. If the matchups in the eighth favor a right-handed pitcher, Allen will pitch that inning and Miller the ninth.
“We’re going to try to leverage both of them the best we can,” Francona said. “We’ve got a guy in Andrew Miller who is a rare breed. He’s comfortable in any role. And Cody is willing to do whatever is best to help us win.”
The other change for the Indians is at third base. On Monday, third baseman Juan Uribe was designated for assignment. Jose Ramirez, who has played mostly left field and some third base this year, will replace Uribe as the everyday third baseman.
The Twins, who have won four of their last five games, are riding a rejuvenated offense in recent games. They have won four of their last five games, and in the four wins they scored 26 runs. In Monday’s 12-5 win over Cleveland, the Twins exploded for 19 hits, including three doubles, two triples and five home runs.
“We had 19 hits and new could have had more. We hit a lot of balls hard,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Much of the hard hitting came from Max Kepler, who had four hits, including three home runs, and Joe Mauer, who had four hits, including a double and a home run.
“We’re hoping Joe gets into a run,” Molitor said. “He’s tweaking some things, trying to find his rhythm.”
Outfielder Byron Buxton did not play in Monday’s game due to a sore right knee. An MRI exam done on the knee Monday was negative, and Buxton is listed as day-to-day.