With the start of a seven-game West Coast swing awaiting them on Monday, the Minnesota Twins try to gain even more momentum as they seek a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians at Target Field on Sunday.
Minnesota has struggled quite a bit this season, currently 12 games below .500 and 10 games out of contention in the American League Central, but the club has managed to generate a four-game win streak thanks to a narrow 3-2 win on Saturday.
The Twins scored all three of their runs in the bottom of the sixth, thanks in part to some faulty defense by a Cleveland squad that has dropped back-to-back games after closing out the first half on a four-game win streak.
Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Ryan Doumit each crossed the plate for Minnesota.
Kevin Correia picked up his seventh win of the campaign as he permitted just two runs on three hits and a walk over six innings of action. The bullpen then held it together for the hosts, with Glen Perkins notching his 23rd save.
Charged with the loss was reliever Rich Hill, who failed to register a single out while being charged with all three runs, although just two were earned. Cleveland starter Corey Kluber allowed just three hits and walked two in five innings, during which he struck out seven.
Jason Kipnis delivered his 14th home run of the season, a two-run shot, in the top of the sixth but that was all the offense the Indians were able to muster in the setback.
"We're getting into late July right now," Kipnis said. "You can make excuses for a while, but we're going to need some guys to start stepping up here. We're kind of shooting ourselves in the foot right now in these last two games."
Having alternated wins and losses over his last five decisions, Justin Masterson is on schedule to pick up a victory this afternoon for the Indians if the trend continues to hold true. The right-hander has watched his team bow in three of his last four appearances, the latest coming on July 10 versus Toronto at home.
Against the Blue Jays, the San Diego State product permitted just two runs on four hits, but he also issued five walks while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings during what would become a 5-4 victory for the visitors.
Masterson, who is a disappointing 2-7 with a 4.53 ERA in his career versus Minnesota, went up against the Twins in early May and allowed five runs on eight hits and a couple of walks in 6 2/3 innings. However, while the Tribe came out with a 7-6 win, the hurler was not involved in the decision.
Stepping up to the mound for the Twins in the series finale is Scott Diamond, getting his first look at the Indians this season. The left-hander has gone four starts without a victory and has won only once in his last seven appearances.
Diamond last pitched on July 12 versus the New York Yankees in the Bronx, working his way through 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit but also walking three before a lengthy rain delay put the game on hold. Once play resumed the Twins opted to go to the bullpen instead of sending Diamond back out on the diamond.
For his career, Diamond is 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA in five games versus Cleveland.
Minnesota, which won the season series in 2012 by a count of 12-6, has now won three in a row over Cleveland in order to knot this year's series at four games apiece.
The Sports Network