It wasn’t too long ago that the Cleveland Indians owned the best home record in baseball. Recapturing that success at Jacobs Field will take on added importance as they near the final month of the season.
The AL Central-leading Indians look to win their third straight home game Tuesday night as they continue a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
With their eighth win in 11 games, the Indians (73-57) maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the Central and moved 6 1/2 ahead of Minnesota (67-64), which had won a season high-tying five straight.
Cleveland entered Monday having lost 13 of 18 at home after it was a major league-best 33-13 following a win over Kansas City on July 15. The Indians now have the fifth-best record in the AL.
Paul Byrd beat the Twins for the fourth time in four starts this season. He was helped by the Indians’ first triple play since Aug. 7, 1992 and first in Cleveland since they did it against the Twins in 1976.
“As soon as he (Mike Redmond) hit it, there was dead silence in the dugout,” Byrd said. “And when we turned it, for me it was like water to a dying man in the desert.”
The eight runs was the Indians’ highest total at home since July 27, when Byrd beat the Twins 10-4.
Jason Bartlett homered for Minnesota, which had a six-game road win streak stopped.
“The triple play deflated us, but that’s how the night went,” Minnesota’s Torii Hunter said. “I think we can come back. We’ve been playing well and we just need to stay positive.”
Bartlett has six multihit games in his last seven, batting .516 (16-for-31) during that stretch.
Although Bartlett is swinging a hot bat, the Twins will likely be without a major part of their offense again Tuesday as catcher Joe Mauer is expected to miss his third straight game with a strained left hamstring.
“Right now, he’s Kirk Gibson waiting to pinch hit,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s limping around. He’ll do exercises in the swimming pool and try to get better.”
After winning for the first time in more than two months, Boof Bonser (6-10, 4.76 ERA) takes the mound for Minnesota. The right-hander limited Baltimore to one run and three hits over seven innings in a 3-1 victory Thursday, his first win since June 10. He was 0-8 in his previous 12 starts.
“I didn’t worry about it. I knew eventually I’d get a win,” he said.
Bonser struggled in his only start this season against the Indians - a 10-4 loss at Jacobs Field on July 27. He was reached for six runs - four earned - and nine hits in 2 2-3 innings.
He is 0-1 with a 7.56 ERA in two career starts against Cleveland.
Jake Westbrook (4-7, 4.40) looks to continue his recent turnaround for the Indians. The right-hander has pitched much better lately, going 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in five August starts after he was 1-6 with a 6.20 ERA in his first 12 outings this season. He was sharp again Thursday at Detroit, yielding five hits in eight scoreless innings in Cleveland’s 3-1, 10-inning victory.
Westbrook gave up two runs and four hits over seven innings at home on July 28, but did not receive a decision in the Indians’ 3-2 loss to Minnesota.
He is 4-7 with a 3.84 ERA in 15 starts against the Twins, going 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in his past three outings versus them.
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