Cleveland (63-59) at Minnesota (66-54)

Cloudy Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 37° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Fri Aug 20, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The slumping Cleveland Indians look to gain some ground in the AL Central as they begin a critical three-game series with the division-leading Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.

After taking two straight from Minnesota last weekend at Jacobs Field to pull within one game of the Twins, the Indians have lost four in a row to fall four games back in the division.

Scott Elarton was pounded for three homers in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Texas as the Indians were swept by the Rangers, who are tied with Boston for the AL wild card, 5 1/2 games in front of Cleveland.

Casey Blake homered and Jody Gerut went 4-for-4 for Cleveland, which finished 1-8 against Texas this season.

“Those guys have had our number all year,” Gerut said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win the ballgame a couple of times but just couldn’t get over the hump.”

Right-hander Jake Westbrook takes the mound for Cleveland in Friday’s series opener.

Westbrook has won five straight decisions, and is 1-1 with a 2.20 ERA in three appearances, including one start, against Minnesota this season.

“They’re a great team. We know that,” Westbrook said after beating the Twins 7-1 on Saturday—the Indians’ last victory.

The Twins rallied from a 9-3 deficit to take a one-run lead into the ninth inning Thursday, but closer Joe Nathan blew a rare save opportunity as Minnesota lost to the New York Yankees 13-10 at the Metrodome, failing to complete a three-game sweep.

The Twins also lost Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter to a neck injury. Hunter strained his neck when he crashed into the padded wall trying to make a catch. He laid on his back on the warning track for several minutes before being helped to his feet and carted off the field. He is listed as day-to-day.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Westbrook StL vs. K. Lohse Mil
14-9 Record 9-13
3.38 ERA 5.34
116 K 111
61 BB 76
1.25 WHIP 1.63