The Cleveland Indians are hoping a return home and the opening of a lengthy stretch against their own division will help them rebound following a disappointing 10-game road trip.
Cleveland (21-14) opens a three-game series Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins (18-19) at Jacobs Field, where it owns the best home winning percentage in the majors.
The Indians, who are 11-3 at home, went 4-6 on their trip, which concluded with a six-game West Coast swing. They lost four of the final five games, including two of three this past weekend against Oakland.
Cleveland blew a two-run, ninth-inning lead in falling 10-7 to the Athletics on Sunday. Closer Joe Borowski had retired the first two batters and had an 0-2 count on Eric Chavez before Chavez singled to extend the ninth. Milton Bradley then tied the game with a homer and after Borowski gave up two consecutive singles, Fernando Cabrera came in and gave up a game-winning, three-run homer to Jack Cust.
“It’s frustrating,” said Borowski, who had converted 12 of his previous 13 save opportunities. “Everybody did their jobs today except for one person … me. You’re supposed to come away winning the series and instead you go back home not winning it so it’s frustrating.”
The Indians play nine of their next 13 against the AL Central. Cleveland is 6-2 against its own division, winning two series against the Chicago White Sox and sweeping a two-game set in Minnesota in late April.
The Indians will hand the ball to Paul Byrd (2-1, 2.84 ERA) on Tuesday. Byrd allowed two runs and nine hits in seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels last Wednesday, but didn’t receive a decision in Cleveland’s 3-2 loss.
“I look at it as a good start, but I’m very disappointed because I had that game won,” said Byrd, who threw six scoreless innings before giving up a game-tying homer in the seventh.
The right-hander is 6-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 12 starts against Minnesota. He had won three straight decisions against the Twins before suffering a 6-1 loss in Cleveland on Sept. 17.
Minnesota will counter with Ramon Ortiz (3-3, 3.80), who is winless in his last four starts. Ortiz allowed five runs, six hits and walked three in six innings against the White Sox on Wednesday to fall to 0-3 with a 5.48 ERA in his last four starts after opening the season 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA.
The right-hander is 3-1 with a 2.20 ERA in five starts and two relief appearances against the Indians. He’s also pitched two complete games against them.
Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak with a 16-4 win over Detroit on Sunday. Torii Hunter homered twice and drove in a career-high seven runs, while Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-6 with a homer and four RBIs for the Twins.
Six players had multihit games, including Justin Morneau, who was in the lineup despite having his nose broken on Saturday. The reigning AL MVP was 3-for-5 and scored three times in just the Twins’ fourth win in 12 games this month.
“That’s something that ought to get any team rolling,” Hunter said.