Now that the Indians have completed their stretch of 10 games in a row against division leaders in the American League, they really cannot afford to relax when they take on AL Central nemesis Minnesota for three games starting Friday night at Progressive Field.
Although the Tribe swept a day/night doubleheader in Minnesota recently, the Twins came back to take the last two games of that series and lead Cleveland six games to three in the season's series.
The Indians simply have to figure out a way to win at least two games this weekend against a Twins' squad that has fallen 10 games behind the Tigers and is in truth not really in contention.
An interesting situation possibly presents itself this weekend. Former Indian Jim Thome is two homers short of 600 for his career, and you know that he would like nothing more than to get it against his old mates.
Can't say I would be happy to see him reach such a milestone here, but it would be...interesting, for sure.
Justin Masterson, after working only two innings on Tuesday vs. the Tigers before the rains came and ended his night, will get the start for the Tribe in the series opener tonight.
Masterson (9-7, 2.71 ERA) will be facing the Twins for the third time this season, and will be looking for his first victory vs. Minnesota in 2011. Justin has gone 15.2 innings in those two starts, and has given up only two runs, but has been the victim of a serious lack of offense against the Twins.
On June 8 Masterson went eight frames and allowed two runs, but got a no-decision in a 3-2 Minnesota win in Cleveland, and on July 19 in the Twin Cities, Masterson tossed 7.2 scoreless innings, but again got a no-decision when the Indians blew a ninth-inning lead the day after their doubleheader sweep.
Hopefully, against Carl Pavano (6-9, 4.71 ERA) the Tribe can provide Masterson with enough runs to get a W.
Ex-Indian Pavano has been tough on his old teammates this season, going 1-0 in two starts and giving up just four runs in 14 innings of work. Pavano is 3-2 vs. Cleveland over his career, with a 2.72 ERA in 49.2 career innings against The Good Guys.
This series will continue with a 7:05 game on Saturday when Brian Duensing (8-10) takes on Josh Tomlin (11-5) before wrapping up on Sunday at 1:05 with Kevin Slowey (0-0) scheduled to get his first start of the season. David Huff (although it has not been officially announced yet) will probably come back from Columbus to get the start for Cleveland.