American League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, September 27th (All times Eastern)
Cleveland Indians (89-70) at Minnesota Twins (66-93), 8:10 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Cleveland - Corey Kluber (10-5, 3.61) Minnesota - Pedro Hernandez (3-2, 6.05)
(Sports Network) - The Cleveland Indians could be peaking at the right time.
The Tribe goes after an eighth straight win and tries to move one step closer to a wild card berth on Friday, when the Indians continue their four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Cleveland survived on Thursday, as Yan Gomes went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and two runs scored to help the Indians to a 6-5 win. Michael Brantley went 3- for-5 with two RBI for the Indians, who almost blew a five-run ninth inning lead, but remained one game ahead of the Texas Rangers for the second AL wild card spot.
"You know what? I think we'll always figure out a way to win. That's kind of the way I always view it," Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Cleveland starter Zach McAllister tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Bryan Shaw (7-3) pitched 1 2/3 spotless frames of relief to pick up the win.
Josmil Pinto hit a two-run homer during a four-run ninth for the Twins, who have dropped three in a row. Brian Dozier, Alex Presley and Ryan Doumit each had an RBI.
"Like the way they finished and got after it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just needed one more hit."
Minnesota starter Andrew Albers (2-5) gave up four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander has lost his last five decisions.
Getting the call for the Tribe on Friday will be red-hot right-hander Corey Kluber, who is 3-0 with a 4.05 ERA in four starts. Coincidentally or not, since Kluber's return after missing a month with a sprained finger on his pitching hand has coincided with the Indians' recent 14-5 run.
Kluber beat the Houston Astros on Sunday, holding them to a pair of runs in 5 1/3 innings to run his record to 10-5 while lowering his ERA to 3.61.
"I still think he's not in midseason form as far as his command," Francona said. "But he still competes. You saw what he gave us. I just think he's still kind of clawing his way back."
The Twins will counter with lefty Pedro Hernandez, who is 3-2 with a 6.05 ERA. Hernandez was hammered his last time out, as Oakland shelled him for six runs in just two innings.
"Hernandez basically centered the baseball and they made him pay," Gardenhire said.
Minnesota is playing for very little other than pride at this point, but Gardenhire is closing in on a significant milestone. The Twins skipper is two wins short of 1,000 for his career.
Gardenhire is in the final year of his contract and some have speculated that the 2010 AL Manager of the year may not return to the Twins next season.
Cleveland is 10-6 versus the Twins this season.
09/27 10:42:00 ET