The Minnesota Twins look to avert a pair of firsts on Thursday when they conclude a three-game series against the host Cleveland Indians.
The Twins have yet to lose three straight contests or be swept this season.
Minnesota finds itself staring at the possibility of both scenarios after failing to take advantage of a bullpen game by Cleveland and squandering a four-run lead in a 9-7 setback on Wednesday. The late uprising by the second-place Indians trimmed the American League Central-leading Twins’ advantage to 9 1/2 games.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, however, dismissed the notion of his team putting too much stock into losing the first two games of the series.
“To this point in the year, I haven’t seen our guys come back from any of these games — whether we win or lose — with any kind of different energy or anything like that,” Baldelli told reporters.
The homer-happy Twins have seen the Indians flex their muscles in this series, with Francisco Lindor going deep three times, Roberto Perez homering twice, and Jordan Luplow and Jake Bauers also testing — and exceeding — the limits of Progressive Field.
The late fireworks were music to the ears of Cleveland manager Terry Francona, who was forced to dip liberally into his bullpen Wednesday after scheduled starter Carlos Carrasco was placed on the injured list with a blood condition.
“It turned a night that was long and challenging into a really fun night,” Francona said of the late comeback. “We’ve had our challenges thrown at us, and we probably will have more. But (Wednesday) was a fun night to be part of us. It was good for us.”
Perez told reporters that Carrasco’s medical condition was in his thoughts.
“We had a meeting and we talked about each of us supporting each other,” Perez said, per the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “We’re going to do it for him. We talked about not being down. We talked about taking the positive things and going from there. We know this is a big series and we talked about playing really hard and see what happens.”
On Thursday, the Indians will turn to right-hander Trevor Bauer (4-5, 3.76 ERA) for the series finale.
Bauer is 0-4 in his last six starts, most recently allowing six runs (two earned) in seven innings of a 6-1 loss the Chicago White Sox last Friday.
The 28-year-old Bauer is 6-7 with a 4.27 ERA in 20 career appearances (19 starts) versus the Twins. He deserved a better fate in his last encounter with Minnesota, allowing just one run on one hit while striking out nine over seven innings in his season debut on March 30. He got a no-decision, though the Indians won the game 2-1.
Bauer will need to keep an eye on Byron Buxton, who belted a mammoth three-run shot on Wednesday for his third homer in eight games. Buxton, however, is just 2-for-13 with four strikeouts against Bauer.
The Twins will counter with right-hander Jose Berrios (7-2, 3.27 ERA), who owns a 4-2 mark with a 4.00 ERA in eight career starts versus Cleveland and a 2-0 record at Progressive Field.
Berrios scattered two hits and struck out a season-high 10 batters in 7 2/3 innings of a 2-0 victory over the Indians in the season opener on March 28.
The 25-year-old Berrios settled for a no-decision on Friday despite yielding three runs on as many hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in 6 2/3 innings at Tampa Bay.
–Field Level Media
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