The teams close out their three-game series at Progressive Field on Sunday - the finale of a tough six-game road trip for the Twins.
Minnesota (56-47) beat the Indians (45-57) 11-4 on Saturday, snapping a five-game losing streak and remaining 3 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox for the division lead. Brian Buscher hit a three-run homer and had a career-high five RBIs and Delmon Young added three hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who equaled the run total from their entire losing streak.
“We’re happy tonight,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We haven’t shaken hands in a week. It was a nice win for us.”
While the Twins are trying to regain momentum in the playoff race, the Indians - 14 games out of first - traded another member of last year’s team, which came within one win of representing the AL in the World Series.
After trading reigning AL Cy Young winner CC Sabathia to Milwaukee in a five-player deal on July 7, Cleveland moved third baseman Casey Blake to Los Angeles before Saturday’s loss, getting minor leaguers Carlos Santana and Jonathan Meloan from the Dodgers.
Blake, who had been with Cleveland since 2003, was leading the Indians with 58 RBIs and was batting .289 with 11 home runs.
“We’re in a situation we didn’t want to be in, but we’re committed to taking advantage of it the best we can,” general manager Mark Shapiro said. “There’s always a conflict of emotion, but you have to separate from that emotion and make good, solid decisions for the organization.”
Cleveland, which had won eight of 11 before Saturday’s defeat, looks to bounce back Sunday against Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn (7-6, 3.83 ERA), who is trying to avoid his third straight loss.
Blackburn is coming off his shortest start of the season after lasting only 1 2-3 innings on Monday against the Yankees, allowing six runs - three earned - and seven hits in a 12-4 defeat.
The right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.04 lifetime ERA in two starts and two relief appearances against the Indians. Both starts - and decisions - have come this season.
Jeremy Sowers (1-5, 6.44) counters for Cleveland. The left-hander pitched six innings in his last start on July 19 against Seattle, allowing four runs and five hits in a 9-6 win. The victory was his first since May 24, 2007 against Kansas City, and only his ninth in 37 starts over three seasons with the Indians.
“It could have been better, but it could have been a whole lot worse too,” Sowers said. “Lately I’ve been figuring out some stuff more.”
Sowers is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA in three career starts against the Twins.