The Minnesota Twins trail the Cleveland Indians in the standings, but they routinely have gotten the better of their American League Central rival this season.
The cellar-dwelling Twins (61-77) have won nine of 14 meetings against the second-place Indians (68-68), including six of the past seven encounters.
Minnesota posted a pair of three-run victories to start the current four-game series, which continues Wednesday in Cleveland. The Twins began the set with a 5-2 win on Monday before handing the Indians their ninth shutout loss of the season, courtesy of a 3-0 decision on Tuesday.
Cleveland acting manager DeMarlo Hale said his team has encountered solid pitching after it erupted for 11 runs in the series finale against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
“I think the last two nights, they pitched pretty good,” Hale said of the Twins. “You turn the page real quick. I know I put Boston behind me, that’s in the past. Let’s worry about what’s at hand. We have to come back (Wednesday) and get back on the W side.”
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli returned to Minnesota prior to this series in preparation to the birth of his daughter. Now, outfielder Brent Rooker announced there is a contingency plan in place should he need to depart with respect to his growing family.
“It’s an exciting time for me and my wife,” said Rooker, who belted a solo homer on Tuesday. “We’re looking forward to our little girl being born, but we have a plan, so it kinda gives me the freedom to go out and play without having to worry about much and not be stressed out too much, which is nice.”
What’s also nice is how Rooker has fared of late. He is batting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and five RBIs over his past 15 games.
Minnesota right-hander Joe Ryan (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will look to record his first major league win when he takes the mound on Wednesday.
Ryan, 25, fared well in his first outing since returning from the Tokyo Olympics, save for one inning. He retired the first six Chicago Cubs batters he faced on Sept. 1 before struggling in the third inning, surrendering all three of the runs he allowed. He wound up working five innings, striking out five and walking one in a 3-0 loss.
“It was just executing my pitches. I mis-executed a little bit too much in the third and got into some not-so-great counts and was able to battle back from those a couple of times,” Ryan said after the game, which was his big-league debut. “And then, you’ve got to execute that pitch there and get the job done, whatever the plan is. But yeah, just staying on that a little bit more is the only thing that I was a little bit annoyed with myself by.”
Cleveland will counter with right-hander Triston McKenzie (4-5, 4.62 ERA), who authored a strong performance Thursday in his return from the injured list. He had been sidelined for 11 days due to shoulder fatigue.
McKenzie, 24, allowed one run on two hits in six innings of a 4-2 victory at Kansas City on Thursday. He fanned six and walked one.
While McKenzie has won each of his past three starts, he is 0-2 with a bloated 12.91 ERA in two career starts against Minnesota. He yielded six runs and five walks in 3 1/3 innings of a 10-0 setback to the Twins on May 21.
Cleveland’s Myles Straw had a pair of singles on Tuesday to notch his 11th multi-hit performance since being acquired from the Houston Astros on July 30. He is 5-for-9 in the current series and 10-for-29 (.345) against Minnesota this season.
–Field Level Media