The Twins come in after losing three straight to the Chicago White Sox to fall 1 1/2 games behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central. Minnesota has a 1 1/2 -game over the third-place White Sox.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn’t want his players to get caught up in what the other teams in the division are doing.
“I think we try to stress, stay within ourselves, keep pulling for each other and we can’t worry about the other guys,” Gardenhire said.
Some of Minnesota’s problems can be pinned on the struggles of its starting pitchers. Twins starters have recorded just three wins in their last 18 games.
All three of those wins have been earned by Rogers, who is 3-1 in his last four starts despite a 5.25 ERA. The veteran southpaw is 9-11 with a 5.84 ERA in 41 games, including 18 starts, against Cleveland.
Minnesota didn’t get much from pitchers Kyle Lohse and Eddie Guardado on Wednesday. Lohse allowed five runs over five innings and Guardado gave up a two-run homer to Frank Thomas in the bottom of the 12th inning as the Twins suffered an 8-6 loss to the White Sox.
First baseman Doug Mientkiewicz left the game in the eighth inning with a bruised right toe.
Cleveland is coming off a split of its four-game series with Kansas City. The Indians managed just six hits in losing the series finale 8-2 on Wednesday.
C.C. Sabathia will get the start for the Indians on Thursday. The burly left-hander has been on a roll of late, going 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA over his last four starts.
STANDINGS: Indians - 4th place, 10 1/2 GB, AL Central. Twins - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, AL Central.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Sabathia (7-3, 3.48 ERA). Sabathia comes in off a quality start against Cincinnati on Saturday, allowing just two runs and three hits over six innings. However, he wasn’t around to get the loss as the Reds rallied for a 5-4 win. Sabathia has held the opposition to three earned runs or less in 14 of his 16 starts.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Rogers (7-3, 4.93 ERA). Rogers allowed one run and six hits, while striking out six, over six innings in a 5-2 win over Milwaukee on Saturday.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Milton Bradley, .336 avg., 43 runs and 13 SBs; Matt Lawton, 12 HRs and 42 RBIs. Twins - Corey Koskie, .305; Koskie and Hunter, 12 HRs; Hunter, 53 RBIs; Koskie and Jacque Jones, 46 runs; Cristian Guzman, 7 SBs.
2002 SEASON SERIES: Twins, 11-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - OF Lawton is hitting only .158 with a home run in 19 career at bats against LHP Rogers. … LHP Sabathia is 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA in seven career starts against Minnesota. … OF Bradley is fourth in the AL with a .336 batting average. Twins - OF Jones has missed two straight games with a strained groin. He is listed as day-to-day. … LHP Guardado is fourth in the AL with 20 saves. Lefties are hitting just .143 against him. … OF Kielty is 7-for-15 with two doubles and two home runs in his career against Sabathia.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 16-27 on the road; Twins - 21-20 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - INF John McDonald (back), 15-day DL; INF Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Jason Bere (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Dave Elder (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Mark Wohlers (elbow), 60-day DL. Twins - INF Chris Gomez (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.