Lohse looks for his third straight win after a dismal six-week stretch, and the Twins try to keep rolling through an easy stretch of the schedule as they open a four-game set against the Cleveland Indians.
Minnesota went into the break by losing eight in a row and 12 of 13. Since that skid and the time off for the Midsummer Classic, the Twins have gone 16-8 to climb within 2 1/2 games of Kansas City for the AL Central lead.
The All-Star break did not seem to help Lohse, but he has come around in August. He’s won both of his outings this month, giving up a total of five runs while walking only one batter in 12 innings.
Lohse had gone 0-5 with a 10.95 ERA in his previous eight starts.
His last loss and worst start of the season came at Cleveland on July 26, when he failed to get out of the second inning and allowed eight runs in a 9-2 defeat.
This series is the last in a span of 20 games against some of the AL’s worst teams—Cleveland, Baltimore and Detroit—for Minnesota. Following Thursday’s finale of this four-game set, the Twins play seven of their next nine games against the first-place Royals.
However, the Indians come into this series feeling confident after a week in which they took two of three from AL West-leading Seattle and three of four from defending World Series champion Anaheim.
Cleveland won the last three games of its series with the Angels despite playing the final two without leading hitter Milton Bradley, who has been bothered by a stiff neck. His status for this series is uncertain.
STANDINGS: Indians - 4th place, 13 GB, AL Central. Twins - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, AL Central.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jake Westbrook (5-6, 4.58 ERA). The right-hander won Wednesday despite having his worst performance in five starts since rejoining the rotation. Westbrook gave up six runs and eight hits—including two homers—in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-6 win over Seattle. He’s 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in five career appearances against Minnesota despite allowing four runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to the Twins on July 25.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Lohse (8-9, 5.06 ERA). The 24-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 6.75 ERA in eight career games, including six starts, against Cleveland.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Bradley, .321 avg., 56 RBIs, 61 runs and 17 SBs; Matt Lawton, 15 HRs. Twins - Shannon Stewart, .319 avg. and 65 runs; Torii Hunter, 21 HRs and 76 RBIs; Cristian Guzman, 13 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 5-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - OF Coco Crisp is batting .175 (7-for-40) in August after hitting .351 (40-for-114) in July. … INF John McDonald is in a 4-for-36 slump (.111), going hitless in his last 12 at-bats. … OF Jody Gerut has five RBIs in the last six games after going eight straight without one. Twins - OF Stewart is hitting .392 (40-for-102) since being acquired from Toronto at the All-Star break. He has 15 multihit games in his last 21 contests. … CF Hunter is hitting .218 at home, compared to .271 on the road. … Minnesota has averaged 6.1 runs in 14 games at the Metrodome since the All-Star break.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 20-39 on the road; Twins - 32-27 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - INF Ricky Gutierrez (back), 15-day DL; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 15-day DL; OF 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. Twins - OF Lew Ford (arm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (elbow), 60-day DL.
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