Coming off two huge wins over the Chicago White Sox that earned them a share of the AL Central lead, the Minnesota Twins might have come into this series against the Cleveland Indians thinking they had accomplished something.
Friday put an end to that.
“The series in Chicago was intense. I guess some guys came to Cleveland and relaxed,” Torii Hunter said after the Twins lost 4-3 to the Indians. “You can’t relax against them. They’ve got a good club. They want to kick some butt. Can’t you tell?”
The Twins look to reverse their fortunes against the Indians and gain sole possession of first place in the Central as the teams resume their four-game series at Jacobs Field.
On Friday, the Indians beat the Twins for the ninth time in 14 matchups this season.
Manager Ron Gardenhire had warned his team against letting its guard down against Cleveland, which has long since been eliminated from playoff contention.
The Twins apparently didn’t heed his warnings.
“It’s a disappointing loss,” Gardenhire said. “We didn’t execute well fundamentally. We made some mistakes pitching.”
Hunter homered, and Shannon Stewart went 2-for-5 with a double for the Twins, who have lost just three of their last 10 games.
Despite the loss, the Twins remained tied with the White Sox for first place in the division because Chicago lost 7-4 in Boston on Friday.
STANDINGS: Twins - 1st place (tied), AL Central. Indians - 4th place, 13 1/2 GB, AL Central.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Kyle Lohse (12-11, 4.96 ERA). On Monday, Lohse gave up five earned runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-2 loss to the White Sox—just his second defeat in eight decisions. The 24-year-old right-hander is 4-2 with a 6.05 ERA—his worst ERA against any AL team—in nine career appearances, including seven starts, against the Indians.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jason Stanford (0-1, 4.80 ERA). Stanford gave up four earned runs and five hits in five innings of Cleveland’s 8-5 loss to the White Sox last Saturday, but did not receive a decision. The 26-year-old lefty, who has made five relief appearances and five starts this season, made his major league debut against the Twins on July 6 but did not get a decision in the Indians’ 5-3 win, despite giving up two earned runs and five hits in five innings.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Twins - Doug Mientkiewicz, .306 avg.; Hunter, 24 HRs and 93 RBIs; Stewart, 82 runs; Cristian Guzman, 16 SBs. Indians - Jody Gerut, .280 avg., 21 HRs and 72 RBIs; Casey Blake, 75 runs; Milton Bradley, 17 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 9-5.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Twins - The Indians said RHP Joe Mays had successful “Tommy John” elbow surgery on Thursday. … OF Stewart is batting .359 (14-for-39) in his last seven games and has hit safely in 17 of his last 20. … The Twins have scored at least four runs in 12 of their last 16 games. Indians - The Indians have 17 rookies on their 25-man roster. … Cleveland has averaged six runs per game over its last four. … OF Bradley, who is on the disabled list with a back injury, pleaded innocent Friday to charges of speeding and fleeing.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Twins - 38-36 on the road; Indians - 36-36 at home.
INJURIES: Twins - RHP Mike Fetters (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Mays (elbow), day-to-day. Indians - INF John McDonald (back), 15-day DL; OF Bradley (back), 15-day DL; OF Matt Lawton (finger), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Ryan Ludwick (knee), 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; INF Ricky Gutierrez (back), 60-day DL; INF Omar Vizquel (knee), 60-day DL.