The Indians will try to move into a tie atop the AL Central with the two-time defending champions when they conclude their three-game series with the visiting Twins.
Cleveland has not owned a part of first place since 2001. That same year, the Indians recorded their last sweep of the Twins, doing so from Aug. 14-16.
Expected by many to be a .500 team at best this season, the Indians moved within a game of the AL Central lead with a 7-1 win over the Twins on Saturday. Travis Hafner, Casey Blake and Victor Martinez homered for Cleveland, which has won six straight and 10 of 11.
The Indians have gained seven games on the Twins in 10 days. Minnesota, which has lost eight of 10, had a season-high six-game lead over the Indians and Chicago White Sox after last Sunday’s games.
“We are their whipping boy right now and we don’t like that,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
The Indians will give the ball to Chad Durbin on Sunday. Durbin is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Buffalo on July 22. In a 2-0 home victory over Toronto on Tuesday, the 26-year-old right-hander pitched seven innings of four-hit ball and struck out a career-high seven.
“I’m feeling a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable,” said Durbin, who went 3-4 with a 10.70 ERA in 10 outings, including two starts, before being sent to the minors on May 29.
Durbin will oppose 41-year-old Terry Mulholland, who was part of the Cleveland team that won just 68 games last season.
“You could see last year that there was a lot talent but it was just unpolished,” said Mulholland, who was 3-4 with a 4.91 ERA in 45 games, including three starts, with the Indians last season. “But knowing the kind of manager Eric Wedge is and the job (pitching coach) Carl Willis has done, it doesn’t surprise me where they are.”
Mulholland, an 18-year veteran, is making just his sixth start of the season. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA in his last two, including giving up four runs in the first inning in a 4-3 loss to Seattle on Tuesday.
“It’s a nine-inning ballgame,” said Mulholland, who allowed 10 hits over seven innings. “You’ve got to play the first one before you play the other eight. Unfortunately, I didn’t play the first one very well tonight.”