The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will meet Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field in the final game of their four-game series. Based on what has happened in the first three games, the fact that there is one more game left in the series is good news for Minnesota and bad news for Cleveland.
Minnesota has reached double figures in runs in each of the first three games and put a frightful pounding on Cleveland’s vaunted starting rotation.
In the first three games, Minnesota has outscored the Indians 35-16 and outhit Cleveland 48-27.
“We’ve gotten it going offensively. You’ve got to enjoy these things whenever they come along,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Indians manager Terry Francona said, “They’ve done it to us three days in a row. They’ve had their way with us and it’s not a fluke. They’ve beat us around.”
In the past three games, Indians starting pitchers Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer combined for a 22.68 ERA, as they allowed 21 earned runs and 23 hits in 8 1/3 innings.
As if getting blown out in three consecutive games wasn’t bad enough, the Indians, if they don’t turn it around soon, are in danger of falling out of first place in the American League Central for the first time in two months.
Cleveland, which has been alone in first place since June 4, has lost seven of its last 11 games, and that has coincided with an eight-game winning streak by second-place Detroit. The Indians led the division by as many as 7 1/2 games on July 20, but their lead over the Tigers is now down to two games.
“You’ve got to play through the tough times because they are inevitable. They happen to everyone,” Francona said. “But I” confident we’ll bounce back.”
To do so, the Indians will have to rely on rookie right-hander Mike Clevinger, who will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus and start Thursday. Clevinger is taking Danny Salazar’s spot in the rotation. Salazar was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with an inflammed right elbow.
Clevinger was 11-1 with a 3.00 ERA at Columbus. He was up with the Indians earlier this season and appeared in four games, three of them starts. In those four appearances, he was 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA. He is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization, and the Indians could use a boost. Cleveland’s starting pitcher has lasted fewer than four innings in all three games of the Minnesota series.
After Wednesday’s game, the Indians optioned pitchers Shawn Armstrong and Cody Anderson to Columbus. They will recall two pitchers on Thursday, one of whom will be Clevinger.
The Twins have quietly become one of the hotter teams in the American League. They’ve won four games in a row, six of their last seven games, and in their last 25 games they are 16-9.
In Thursday’s game, the Twins will start left-hander Hector Santiago, who will be making his Twins debut, after being acquired earlier in the week in a trade with the Angels. As a member of the Angels, Santiago faced Cleveland on June 10 and gave up six runs and seven hits in 1 1/3 innings.
In 22 starts overall this year, Santiago is 10-4 with a 4.25 ERA. In seven career starts against the Indians, he is 2-2 with a 5.94 ERA.