The Twins look to get back on track as they conclude a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
Minnesota has slumped badly over the last month, posting a 7-16 record since June 30. The Twins’ summer swoon has dropped them four games behind Kansas City in the Central.
One of Minnesota’s problems has been its inability to beat up on the rest of the division as it did in 2002. The Twins are just 17-19 against Central opponents this season after going 50-25 within the division in 2002.
Rookie Jody Gerut hit his first career grand slam Saturday to power the Indians to a 9-2 win over Minnesota.
Cleveland’s onslaught was helped by some unusually sloppy fielding by the Twins, who made three errors before they recorded an out in the second inning.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We didn’t execute.”
Indians outfielder Coco Crisp went 2-for-5 to up his batting average to .288.
After batting just .211 (16-for-76) in June, Crisp is hitting .348 (31-for-89) with 13 runs scored and five RBIs in 21 games since July 1. In his last 15 games, the 23-year-old outfielder is batting .381.
Indians manager Eric Wedge said Crisp’s turnaround can be traced to his work ethic.
“He goes about his business in a strong fashion and it’s paying off for him,” Wedge said.
Crisp has been effective in the leadoff spot, something the Indians haven’t had since the departure of Kenny Lofton.
“I want Coco to be a disrupter,” Wedge said. “Get on base, cause havoc and score runs.”
STANDINGS: Twins - 3rd place, 5 1/2 GB, AL Central. Indians - 4th place, 14 GB, AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Rick Reed (5-9, 5.06 ERA). The 37-year-old right-hander has a 7.73 ERA over his last three starts. Reed did not receive a decision Tuesday, giving up five runs and seven hits in five innings of Minnesota’s 10-8 loss to Seattle.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Davis (7-8, 4.72 ERA). Davis has struggled in July, going 0-2 with a 5.57 ERA in four starts. The 23-year-old right-hander went 5 1-3 innings, yielding five runs and seven hits, in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. He walked two and allowed three homers. Davis was roughed up by the Twins, allowing four runs in 2 1-3 innings in a 9-2 loss to Minnesota on July 4.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Shannon Stewart and Jacque Jones, .310 avg.; Torii Hunter, 18 HRs and 66 RBIs; Jones, 53 runs; Cristian Guzman, 12 SBs. Indians - Milton Bradley, .327 avg.,55 runs and 15 SBs.; Gerut and Bradley, 48 RBIs; Matt Lawton, 15 HRs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - OF Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer in his only career at-bat against RHP Davis on July 4. … LHP Eddie Guardado is tied for third in the AL with 24 saves. … RHP Reed is 6-3 with a 4.09 ERA in 12 starts against Cleveland. Indians - RHP Danys Baez has lost his last seven decisions, the longest losing streak for a Cleveland pitcher since Jose Mesa lost eight in a row from Aug. 23, 1996 to June 29, 1997. … Cleveland has lost six of its last eight games. … OF Bradley’s .327 batting average ranks fifth in the AL.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 23-27 on the road; Indians - 24-27 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - 3B Corey Koskie (back), 15-day DL; OF Lew Ford (forearm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL. Indians - INF Ricky Gutierrez (spine), 15-day DL; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF Matt Lawton (finger), 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.