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Cleveland Indians (64-61) at Minnesota Twins (55-70)
Thursday, August 21 - 1:10 PM EST
Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Cleveland Indians are hanging around in the American League wild-card race thanks in part to a run of four straight series without a loss. The Indians will attempt to wrap up a three-game sweep when they visit the Minnesota Twins in the series finale on Thursday. Cleveland has won seven of its last nine games to draw within 4 1/2 games of Detroit Tigers in the race for the second wild card.
The Twins had a great chance to make their mark in the AL Central on the current homestand but instead have dropped five of six to Kansas City and the Indians with the second-place Detroit Tigers due to come in for a four-game weekend series. The Minnesota pitching staff yielded an average of 7.2 runs in the last five losses, with the best effort coming in Wednesday’s 5-0 setback. Cleveland’s staff is at the other end of the spectrum with an average of 1.6 runs in the last nine contests.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, SportsTime Ohio (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Corey Kluber (13-6, 2.41 ERA) vs. Twins RH Phil Hughes (13-8, 3.76)
Kluber has been brilliant of late, allowing a total of two earned runs in 39 innings over his last five outings. The 28-year-old earned the win in each of his last six decisions and notched his eighth double-digit strikeout game with 10 K’s against Baltimore on Friday. Kluber is making his first start of the season against Minnesota and owns a 2-1 record with a 4.82 ERA in seven career starts against the division rivals.
Hughes has been nearly as sharp with three runs allowed in 20 1/3 innings over his last three starts - all wins. The California native did not issue a walk in 7 1/3 innings against Kansas City on Saturday and has walked a total of 15 batters in 158 innings. Hughes last faced Cleveland as a member of the New York Yankees on June 26, 2012, and walked one over eight scoreless innings to earn a win.
1. The Indians’ starting rotation has an ERA of 1.67 over the last nine games.
2. Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier became the first Twins player since 2004 to reach both 20 stolen bases and 20 home runs on Wednesday.
3. Cleveland 1B Nick Swisher underwent surgery on both knees and is out for the rest of the season.
PREDICTION: Indians 4, Twins 1