Minnesota Twins vs Cleveland Indians Series Preview

Apr 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) reacts after getting hurt with first baseman Carlos Santana (41) in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco (59) reacts after getting hurt with first baseman Carlos Santana (41) in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Minnesota Twins Head Home After Capital City Sweep

The Minnesota Twins will look to once again jump-start their season, against one of their division rivals, the Cleveland Indians. The Indians looked to be a contender this month until yesterday’s injury to staff ace Carlos Carrasco. During yesterday’s 6-3 win, that ended in a series-ending sweep over the Detroit Tigers, Carrasco injured his left hamstring and was placed on the disabled list.

Now, the Indians (9-7) will turn to Trevor Bauer (1-0, 4.76 ERA) to replace Carrasco short term. The starting staff was to be the Indians strongest link, and it hasn’t disappointed in 2016. After stumbling out of the starting gate, the Indians’ starters had a 13 game stretch with a 3.25 ERA, and 5 of their last 6 games, the starting pitcher has given up 2 runs or less.

Their weakest starter, Cody Anderson (0-1, 7.53 ERA) was on the hot seat, with Bauer as the choice to supplant him. Now with Carrasco’s injury, Anderson will start Tuesday’s game against the Twins.

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Minnesota looks to shake off yet another disappointing game that was within victory’s reach yesterday. Manager Paul Molitor said his bullpen is “gassed” and is looking to GM Terry Ryan to make moves to bolster their bullpen. Today, Alex Meyer was called up from Rochester to provide depth. No corresponding move was announced as of this writing.

Twins have said that Danny Santana will be activated to fill a need for backup middle infielders, as he has finished his rehab assignment. With 38 strikeouts in the past two games, there have been whispers that the planes may be busy between the Twins’ minor league affiliates and the MSP airport. We’ll keep you updated as the moves are made.

Monday Night Game

Danny Salazar (2-1, 1.47 ERA) vs Tommy Milone (0-1, 5.87 ERA)

7:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Tuesday Night Game

Cody Anderson (0-1, 7.53 ERA) vs Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 2.66 ERA)

7:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Wednesday Night Game

Josh Tomlin (2-0, 1.54 ERA) vs Kyle Gibson (0-3, 6.10 ERA)

7:10 Target Field

TV: Fox Sports North

Cleveland: Twins once again face off against another team heating up. Cleveland is coming off a sweep against division rival Tigers, and is 6-2 on the road this year, and winners of 5 straight. The Indians have moved within 2.5 games of first place Chicago White Sox. The Indians also look to gain one of their offensive stalwarts, Michael Brantley (Avg 17 HR & 90 RBI last 2 years), who has missed every game this season with a shoulder injury. He looks to be activated before tonight’s game. Minnesota won 12 of 19 versus the Indians last year.

Offense: Getting Brantley back should help take off some of the pressure from rising star Jason Kipnis‘ shoulders. The Indians have been mixing up their batting order trying to provide some balance, even 1B/DH veteran Carlos Santana has been used as the lead-off hitter. Francisco Lindor is looking to break out this season. Lindor is leading the Indians in average (.323) and in runs with 12. Cleveland and Minnesota are close in most offensive categories, and are within 2 percentage points in OBP. One big difference is strikeouts, with Cleveland striking out 43 times less than the Twins.

Player to Watch: Second basemen Jason Kipnis. The two-time All-Star is coming off his first .300 season (.303) and is batting .364 in his last 11 games versus the Twins. He’s a lifetime .297 batter versus them, and his 52 runs and 46 RBI against Minnesota are his most against any team. He faces off against Tommy Milone in game one, a pitcher who he is 6 for 15 against.

Pitching: While the starting rotation is Cleveland’s strength, Cody Allen has proven to be a reliable closer this year, despite not generating his normal strikeouts this year. His 6 saves are just 1 behind leader Wade Davis, and 5 of the 6 runs scored against him this year have come in non-save situations. Reliever Bryan Shaw leads the team in appearances and a 12.79 K/9 rate, but has also given up 3 home runs in his 8 appearances.

Player to Watch: Danny Salazar. Looking to break through with Carrasco and Corey Kluber in the rotation, Salazar is 2-1 this year, and his lone loss came against the Mariners in which he only gave up 3 hits (including a 2 run triple) in 7 innings. Salazar started off a little slow against the Twins, his lifetime 3.38 ERA is getting lower with each start, having won 5 straight versus Minnesota until his last game last year, when the Twins prevailed 3-1. Twins are batting .228 lifetime against Salazar.

Minnesota: While Twins have struggled as a team against Salazar, Dozier has feasted on him. Dozier is batting .500 (9/18) with 2 home runs and 6 extra base hits in games against the right-hander.

Next: Player of the Week

Notes: As stated earlier, the Twins will honor Prince during tonight’s game. In addition to playing “Little Red Corvette” during the 7th inning stretch for the remainder of the year, all of the Twins’ hitters will use a Prince song as their walk-up music as they come up to bat. Well played, Twins.

UPDATE: The Twins have optioned Max Kepler and Byron Buxton to the minors prior to tonight’s ballgame. Danny Santana has been activated and Alex Meyer promoted.