|5:10 PM PT6:10 PM MT7:10 PM CT8:10 PM ET20:10 ET0:10 GMT8:10 5:10 PM MST7:10 PM EST7:40 PM VEN4:10 UAE (+1)7:10 PM CT, August 8, 2019
Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota Attendance: 32,517
Surging Indians set for critical visit to Minnesota
Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
- The Indians are an MLB-best 42-19 since May 28, never losing more than two games in a row in that span. They held the Rangers to just two runs in three games early this week, their fewest runs allowed in any series this season.
- The Twins have lost back-to-back games, allowing 12 and 11 runs. This is the second time this season the Twins have allowed double-digit runs in back-to-back games (also July 23-24) -- they only did so once all of last season.
- Minnesota has edged out Cleveland in the season series so far, 5-4, including three of the last four. The Twins are 27-13 against divisional opponents this season, third best in MLB, while the Indians are 31-19, fifth best in the league.
- Jose Ramirez has hit home runs in back-to-back games, his 15th and 16th homers of the season. He is slugging .633 over his last 45 games after slugging just .292 over his first 66 games.
- Nelson Cruz has hit 19 home runs since June 29, most in MLB. At 39 years old, Cruz became the oldest player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to hit 19+ home runs in a 30-game span, breaking the record held by Barry Bonds (did so at 36 years old on June 24, 2001).
- Mike Clevinger is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last six starts, piling up 49 strikeouts. He holds a 2.91 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Twins, including five innings of one-run ball on July 12 in Cleveland.
After trailing the Minnesota Twins by as many as 11 1/2 games on June 3, the three-time defending American League Central-champion Cleveland Indians open a four-game series in Minneapolis on Thursday night just two games out of first place.
The Indians, who have gone 39-16 in their last 55 games and come in off a doubleheader sweep of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, will start right-hander Mike Clevinger (6-2, 3.07 ERA). Minnesota -- which has dropped two in a row, including an 11-7 loss to National League East-leading Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon -- will counter with right-hander Kyle Gibson (11-4, 4.02).
"I wish we were up," Cleveland manager Terry Francona replied when asked if he was pleased with his team's position heading into the weekend showdown. "I think we've done a good job controlling what we can control. That's kind of the best way to go about it. ... It'll be a fun series to play."
Minnesota holds a 5-4 edge over the Indians in the nine games played so far. The teams still play 10 more times before the end of the regular season, with seven of those contests at Target Field.
"They're really good," Francona said of the Twins. "We know that. But they're right in front of us. It'll be a good challenge."
Despite losing 9 1/2 games of their lead in just over two months, the Twins enter the series a confident bunch.
"I don't think there's any need to panic," Gibson, who is 3-9 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 career starts against Cleveland, told twincities.com. "I think if you asked anybody Aug. 1, especially Twins fans, if they're (two) games up in the division, I think everybody is ecstatic."
"We're pretty confident with where we're at," Gibson added. "We understand that if we go and play our type of game, we play well, then the pressure is really not going to be on us at the end of the day."
"It's exciting," closer Taylor Rogers told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "It's all that you can ask for, play meaningful games and have two good teams going at each other. Obviously, we know each other pretty well, playing a lot over the years. It's going to be a nice dogfight."
Clevinger is 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 career appearances (eight starts) against the Twins but is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four games (three starts) at Target Field. He'll be facing a Minnesota team that leads the majors with 224 home runs, one off the franchise single-season record set in 1963. The major league single-season record of 267 set in 2018 by the Yankees also is well within reach.
Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who has hit 32 home runs, is one of the hottest hitters in baseball, batting .426 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs in his last 15 games.
"We're ready," Cruz told the Star Tribune. "We have to take it one game at a time; (Thursday) we take care of that, and then worry about the next day."
"Best-case scenario, we're up by (six games) ... and everybody is feeling really peachy (at end of the series)," Gibson said. "So it can swing both ways pretty firm, but we're still pretty confident in how we're playing, and we know they're a good team, and we know we're a good team, and it should be four really good games."
--Field Level Media
Updated August 8, 2019