Series Preview: Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins

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Pitching Matchups:

Sam Deduno (7-7, 3.82 ERA/4.18 SIERA) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez (9-7, 4.00/4.39)

Sam Deduno comes into tonight’s game riding a personal three game losing streak and has been roughed up pretty good too. In those three starts he has given up a combined 14 runs on 25 hits. The one positive he has going for him is that he’s not walking many batters. He issued only 3 walks during that span and they all came in one game, but it is hard to walk someone when your being hit all over the yard. Despite the recent hiccups Deduno has been a solid pitcher all season for the Twins, though.

Meanwhile, Ubaldo Jimenez is riding a wave of momentum. Over his last five starts he hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs. I have to emphasize earned runs, because poor defense behind him has led to some less than spectacular results. Despite that, however, Jimenez has been consistent throughout most of 2013. He’s probably going to pitch five innings and if the Indians get lucky they may be able to squeeze out a sixth.
Liam Hendriks (0-1, 3.94/4.68) vs. Scott Kazmir (7-6, 4.30/3.91)

Liam Hendriks has only made three starts all season for the Twins and two of them came back in April. Because of that, it’s hard to say for sure what we can expect to see from him. In his most recent outing, a no decision in which he gave up two runs over 6.1 innings, Hendriks looked great. Historically, this is the type of pitcher that gives the Indians issues – little to go on, not much film, no real track record. The Indians could light him up, or they could just as well be shut down for seven or eight innings.

Scott Kazmir had a stretch from mid June through late July where he was virtually unhittable. Now in three of his past four starts he has been lit up for 14 earned runs and gone 1-2 with a no decision. The biggest culprit for the down turn seems to be the long ball. Kazmir has suddenly been unable to keep opposing teams in the park. As a result, his effectiveness has been less than desireable. But, unlike some other folks who follow the team, I am not ready to give up on Kazmir just yet. Saturday’s start against a weak Twins lineup could be just what he needs to get back on track.
Mike Pelfrey (5-10, 5.19/4.79) vs. Zach McAllister (6-7, 3.59/4.40)

Mike Pelfrey has had an absolutely abysmal season, as the 5-10 record and 5.19 ERA can attest. Naturally, he’s pitched well both times he’s faced the Indians. He’s allowed only three runs in 11.2 innings of work against the Tribe. I’m exactly sure what to make of that. I just know I don’t like it. The Indians should be able to rough Pelfrey up, but again the results just haven’t been there for them. Maybe the third time is the charm. We’ll find out on Sunday.

In four of his last five starts Zach McAllister has been fantastic. With the exception of his August 8th start against the Tigers where he got roughed up for six runs in 2.1 innings of work, McAllisters has not surrendered more than two runs in any of those starts. Even more encouraging is the fact that McAllister is pitching deep into games as well. It looks like there appear to no no lingering effects from the finger sprain that kept him out of action for a good chunk of time earlie this season. In his last start against the Twins he allowed only one run in six innings while striking out seven. Let’s hope for a repeat performance.

Final Thought:

We’re entering into the home stretch of the 2013 season and if the Indians want to make it into the playoffs they need to put the pedal to the metal. That means beating teams and winning games they are supposed to win. These next three games against the Twins fall into that category. The Indians are the better team and they need to play like it. Unfortunately, the Twins have been a thorn in the Indians side and always seem to give them trouble. Here’s hoping they can find that next level and turn in a solid performance.

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