The Minnesota Twins look to inch closer to their second straight division title and extend their season-high winning streak to 10 when they take on the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a two-game set at the Metrodome.
“It’s fun for these guys,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Radke is 9-1 since the All-Star break, and the Twins are a major-league best 43-20 in the second half.
Minnesota has won nine straight for the first time since setting a team record with 15 consecutive wins during its 1991 championship season. The Twins’ 11-game home winning streak ties the club mark set that same year.
With back-to-back victories over Cleveland, the Twins will celebrate clinching a playoff berth at the Metrodome for the first time.
“It’d be nice,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, pondering the possibility of a celebration at home.
The Indians closed out their home schedule with a 2-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday.
“It seems like every time we had him on the ropes, he took it up another notch,” Indians first baseman Ben Broussard said of Martinez. “He’d throw a fastball 88 mph, the next one 92, and the next one 95. He’s so polished.”
Indians rookie Cliff Lee was sharp, allowing two runs and three hits in seven innings against baseball’s best hitting team.
The loss was Cleveland’s 90th of the season, marking the first time it has reached that total since going 57-105 in 1991.
STANDINGS: Indians - 4th place, 20 1/2 GB, AL Central. Twins - 1st place, AL Central.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: Jake Westbrook (7-9, 4.36 ERA). The right-hander earned a win his last time out, giving up one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-1 victory over the Royals on Wednesday. Westbrook, who has yet to win back-to-back starts this season, is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in his career against Minnesota.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Kenny Rogers (12-8, 4.73 ERA). The veteran left-hander will try to win consecutive starts for the first time in more than a month. Rogers allowed six hits and two earned runs in 6 1-3 innings as the Twins beat the White Sox 4-2 on Wednesday. He has struggled with a 9-13 record and a 5.80 ERA in 44 career appearances, including 21 starts, against Cleveland.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Indians - Milton Bradley, .321 avg. and 17 SBs; Jody Gerut, 22 HRs and 75 RBIs; Casey Blake, 80 runs. Twins - Pierzynski, .311 avg.; Torii Hunter, 26 HRs and 101 RBIs; Shannon Stewart, 88 runs; Cristian Guzman, 18 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 9-8.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Indians - Cleveland was shut out twice in the three-game series with Boston and three times during its final 10-game homestand. … One night after snapping a 1-for-28 slump with a homer and a triple, 1B Broussard struck out in each of his three at-bats Sunday. … INF Luis Rivas is 5-for-10 with a homer and two RBIs in his career against RHP Westbrook. Twins - Over the last two seasons, the Twins are 145-7 when leading after seven innings and 157-5 when leading after eight. … Minnesota is 24-10 at home since the All-Star break. … RHP Radke has faced 116 consecutive batters without issuing a walk.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Indians - 29-47 on the road; Twins - 46-33 at home.
INJURIES: Indians - 2B 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; SS Omar Vizquel (knee), 60-day DL. Twins - RHP Mike Fetters (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Joe Mays (elbow), 60-day DL.