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Indians Indians Archive Tribe, Twins Ready for Four-Game Wraparound Series
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

kipnis twinsFollowing a series victory over the rival Detroit Tigers, the Indians and Twins will duke it out for last place in Minnesota with a four-game wraparound series. The Indians have played so poorly since the All-Star Break that they’ve gone from second place to fourth place and have gone from three games back in the AL Central to 16.5 games out. They are now just two games in front of the Twins for last place in the division.

The Indians managed to win back-to-back games in Detroit on Monday and Tuesday for the first time since August 8 and 9 and the first time they beat the same team twice in a row since July 3 and 4 when they won back-to-back games over the Anaheim Angels. Now the Indians, losers of 30 of their last 38, are going to use September to try and pick up the pieces of their broken season.

For the Twins, it started bad and didn’t really recover as they lost 16 of 22 in April to start the season and have lost 22 of their last 34. They are second to the Indians in worst run differential and have allowed the third-most runs in all of baseball. There have been bright spots for the Twins with the performances of Josh Willingham and Scott Diamond, but it’s been a frustrating year. Unlike the Indians, however, the Twins had no expectations, so their futility hasn’t come as much of a shock.

Two teams that probably don’t want to still be playing baseball games will play four of them against each other with this rare wraparound series that goes Friday-Monday. Here are the pitching matchups:

gomez1Friday September 7, 8:10 p.m. ET; Jeanmar Gomez (5-7, 5.08) v. Liam Hendriks (0-7, 6.11)

In a matchup of two pitchers having seasons they’d like to forget, the Indians may have the upper hand. Jeanmar Gomez made his return to the rotation last Saturday night and was victorious over the Texas Rangers. Gomez looked good at times and bad at others, giving up two no-doubter home runs and three runs over 5.2 innings of work. It was his first start with the Tribe since June 23. With Josh Tomlin undergoing Tommy John surgery, the door is open for Gomez to have an inside track at a spot in the rotation next season.

Liam Hendriks has made 11 starts and hasn’t won any of them. The undrafted Australian has pitched about as badly as his 0-7 record, except for a game he lost 1-0 to Felix Hernandez and the Minnesota Twins back on August 27. Hendriks threw a complete game five-hitter and still lost. Take away that start and Hendriks has a 7.09 ERA in his other 10 starts.

Gomez has faced Minnesota five times, four of them starts, with a 3.90 ERA over 27.2 innings of work. His last start against them back in May was a gem, going seven innings and allowing just one unearned run on three hits. On the road, Gomez has a 5.05 ERA in seven starts this season. Hendriks faced the Indians back on September 25, 2011 and gave up four runs in six innings in his only start against the Tribe. He’s been much better at home, in large part due to the 1-0 game he lost, with a 4.15 ERA in five starts.

mcallister2Saturday September 8, 7:10 p.m. ET; Zach McAllister (5-6, 4.26) v. Cole De Vries (4-5, 4.41)

There’s something called “regression to the mean” that occurs often times in baseball. That’s what Zach McAllister is going through. After being the Tribe’s most consistent starter for a long stretch of May and June, McAllister seems to have hit a wall. In his last seven starts, he has allowed 33 runs, twice allowing seven or more. In that span, his ERA has jumped more than a run from 3.18 to 4.26, and eight of the runs in that span are unearned.

Cole De Vries has been pretty good over his last three starts, allowing just five runs over 17.1 innings of work. The big problem for him has been the long ball, allowing 16 of them over his first 13 appearances. He has not allowed a home run in his last three starts. By no means has De Vries pitched poorly in most of his starts this season, going at least five innings and allowing two or fewer runs nine times out of his 15 starts.

McAllister was rocked by the Twins in his only career start against them, allowing nine runs in 1.2 innings of work. Only two of the runs were earned, but he gave up six hits and two home runs. On the road this season, McAllister has a 3.93 ERA in six starts. De Vries has never faced the Indians and hasn’t fared well pitching in Target Field this season with a 6.68 ERA in seven starts.

kluberSunday September 9, 2:10 p.m. ET; Corey Kluber (1-3, 4.79) v. Esmerling Vasquez (0-1, 7.94)

Corey Kluber will try his hand at this winning games thing again after getting his first Major League win over the Detroit Tigers in the series opener on Labor Day. After a few rough outings to start off 2012 for Kluber, he has really relaxed and thrown some quality innings for the Tribe. The defense behind him hasn’t helped as he’s already allowed seven unearned runs in seven starts. Kluber does have a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his 35.2 innings of work.

Esmerling Vasquez had made 141 appearances in the Major Leagues before getting his first start on September 2 against Kansas City. He allowed five runs in 5.2 innings of work. In the previous 141 appearances, Vasquez posted a 4.66 ERA as a reliever with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kluber pitched well against the Twins in his second career start, giving up three runs, one earned, over six innings in a no decision on August 7. Vasquez has never faced the Indians.

masterson01Monday September 10, 8:10 p.m. ET; Justin Masterson (11-12, 4.84) v. Scott Diamond (11-6, 3.35)

Justin Masterson beat the Tigers in his last start, looking like the 2011 version of himself. He’ll try to channel for two straight outings in Monday’s series finale against the Twins. Masterson had a feast or famine August, making three good starts allowing a combined three runs and three awful starts allowing a combined 22 runs.

Scott Diamond has been a real bright spot of the Twins season. In his 22 starts, he’s been very consistent and has given the Twins a chance to win on almost every night he pitches. His current 3.35 ERA is the high point of his season, due in large part to the nine earned runs he’s allowed in his last two starts.

Masterson has struggled with the Twins in his career, winning just two of his 13 starts against them, with an ERA of 4.10. He has also been terrible on the road this year with a 6.21 ERA. Diamond, like most lefties, has had success against the Tribe with a 2.34 ERA and a 3-1 record in five starts.


Keys to the Series:

1. Show Some Pride, Man – The Indians don’t want to finish the season in last place. They should give some effort here and avoid an embarrassing letdown after taking two of three from the Tigers. The Twins are 7-4 against the Indians this year and have won five of the last six.

2. Silence Willingham – Josh Willingham has done a lot of damage against the Indians this season. After the Indians failed to sign him last offseason, Willingham has had a huge year and Tribe pitching has helped. Six of Willingham’s 10 hits have gone for extra bases, he has scored nine runs and has driven in 10 runs in 11 games against the Tribe.

3. Open Auditions – With a trade of Shin-Soo Choo a near certainty, as well as a likely trade of Chris Perez, to go along with openings at 1B, LF, and the starting rotation, a lot of guys will get a chance to make some good impressions.


Player to Watch:

The player to watch in this series is Jason Donald. Donald will definitely be on the team in some capacity next season. Whether it’s a possible starter at 3B or LF or just as a super utility guy is up to him. Since his recall, he’s just 11-for-59 at the plate and has struck out 20 times against just one walk.


Wishful Thinking:

Split. Stay two games ahead of them for last place.


Central Focus:

Chicago will face off against Kansas City and Detroit travels out to the west coast to play Anaheim.


One Last Thing...:

Plenty of new faces in the lineup every night. If the Indians go into an offseason fire sale mode, these are the guys you’ll see next year. Better get used to them now before being surprised about it later.

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