The Cleveland Indians are starting to pick up speed while the Minnesota Twins remain stuck in neutral to begin the young season.
The Indians aim for their third straight victory on Tuesday when they play the second contest of their three-game series versus the visiting Twins.
Cleveland mustered just 12 runs during its recent four-game skid before matching that total in its last two contests. Jordan Luplow’s majestic two-run homer in the 10th inning salted away a 5-3 victory over Minnesota on Monday.
“It’s always good to get wins in a row and get it rolling, but we’ve been hitting the ball hard but just haven’t been getting rewarded for it,” Luplow said in his postgame interview. I think (Monday) and (Sunday) were one of those days that we got rewarded for it.”
Nine of Luplow’s 11 hits this season have gone for extra bases (team-leading six homers, three doubles). Four of his homers and been recorded over his last nine games.
Franmil Reyes, Jose Ramirez and former Twin Eddie Rosario continued their hot hitting in the series opener. Reyes drove in a run on Monday for his seventh RBI in his last eight games, Ramirez has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games and Rosario has driven in a run in five straight contests.
The Indians hope their bats stay hot on Tuesday when they tangle with Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda (1-1, 6.11 ERA), who will look to atone for a porous outing in his last start. He was gashed for seven runs on eight hits — including three homers — in a no-decision against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Maeda, 33, has fared significantly better against Cleveland, winning all three of his career starts against the Indians in 2020 while registering a 0.50 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. He also limited the club to a .161 batting average.
Minnesota would welcome another sterling performance against Cleveland on Tuesday. After all, the Twins have dropped three in a row and 12 of their last 14 games.
“We’ve been in a lot of these close ballgames and they’ve been tough on us. They haven’t gone the way we wanted to in a lot of ways,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after his team fell to 0-5 in extra-inning games. “Even when we feel that we’re doing what we want to do, we’re just not getting the results that we’re looking for. That is tough and it can be frustrating, but I want to make sure it’s not overwhelming to our guys.”
Right-hander Aaron Civale (3-0, 2.42 ERA) has been overwhelming opponents this season, including winning his first three starts before settling for a no-decision on Thursday. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits against the New York Yankees, although his four walks drove up his pitch count.
Civale, 25, sports an 0-2 record with a 3.13 ERA in four career starts against Minnesota.
It’s uncertain if Civale will face Byron Buxton, who sat out the series opener due to a sore knee stemming from lingering patellar tendinitis.
“We don’t want this to be a problem going forward, so we’re gonna make sure we get him taken care of,” Baldelli said.
–Field Level Media