The last time the Minnesota Twins swept the Cleveland Indians on the road, construction hadn’t started on Progressive Field and first baseman Justin Morneau was less than a month removed from his 10th birthday.
With Morneau and outfielder Jason Kubel looking to stay hot, the Twins search for their first three-game sweep in Cleveland since 1991 in Sunday’s finale.
Kubel had a pair of solo homers and a double to pace Minnesota’s 15-hit attack in Saturday night’s 7-1 win, and Morneau extended his hitting streak to six games while driving in a run in a fourth straight contest.
Heading into the series, the Twins (9-9) had five runs and 23 hits in four consecutive road losses, but have pounced on a struggling foe with 12 runs and 25 hits in two games even without two-time hitting champ Joe Mauer, who could return as soon as Tuesday.
In the last seven games, Kubel has hit .483 (14-for-29) with nine extra-base hits—three homers—and 10 RBIs, and pushed his average to .350 with his 3-for-5 night. However, it’s Morneau who continues to torment the Indians in Cleveland.
With Saturday’s 2-for-5 performance, the Twins’ All-Star improved to .364 (16-for-44) in the last 10 games at Progressive Field, and he has five doubles, two home runs and 13 RBIs in that time. In 46 career games in Cleveland, Morneau has 39 RBIs—his most at any opposing ballpark.
To help complete their first sweep in Cleveland since June 14-16, 1991, Minnesota will look to its most reliable starter in this young season—Glen Perkins (1-1, 1.50 ERA), who allowed one run over eight innings in a 3-1 win April 19 over visiting Los Angeles.
“It all begins with starting pitching,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Good pitching gives you a chance to stay in the game and takes pressure off your offense.”
Off to their worst start in five seasons at 6-12, the Indians counter with Aaron Laffey (1-0, 2.19), who helped his team win in both previous starts but has faced only Kansas City. Laffey allowed one earned run over seven innings Tuesday night as Cleveland held on for an 8-7 home victory over the Royals.
“Our approach has been very poor,” manager Eric Wedge said. “It’s something we pride ourselves on. We work hard at it. There’s just no excuse, whether it’s lack of discipline or concentration or confidence or whatever the hell it is, we better figure it out pretty damn quick because I’m not going to sit around and watch what we’ve been watching here.”
Victor Martinez has been an exception to his team’s inconsistency with a .405 average—second in the American League behind Boston’s Kevin Youkilis (.444). Martinez has proved even better over the last five games with a .524 average (11-for-21), which includes Saturday’s 3-for-4 performance, and is hitting .368 (21-for-57) in his last 15 games against Minnesota.
The Twins swept the Indians in two games in 2002 and 2003, and at home last season from July 4-6