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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, May 3rd (All times eastern)

Minnesota Twins (12-12) at Cleveland Indians (12-13) 7:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Pedro Hernandez (1-0, 2.35) Cleveland - Justin Masterson (4-2, 3.12)

(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins head to Progressive Field to try and cool down the red-hot Cleveland Indians on Friday, as the American League Central rivals begin a three-game series.

Winners of four straight, the Indians hope to pick up right where they left off before Thursday's idle date. During the four-game win streak, the Tribe outscored Philadelphia and Kansas City by a combined margin of 39-5.

It has been two years since Cleveland last won five in a row.

"I think we're starting to get on that roll a little bit," Indians designated hitter Jason Giambi said. "We've pushed through the tough times and we're starting to play really well offensively."

The Indians launched seven home runs in Tuesday's 14-2 win over Philadelphia, and they followed that up with a 6-0 victory on Wednesday to sweep the two- game set. Prized prospect Trevor Bauer made a spot start on Wednesday and earned his first win with the club despite issuing six walks.

The Tribe is simply that hot, but nobody is swinging a hotter bat right now than outfielder Ryan Raburn, who has 12 hits in his last 14 at-bats. Included in that stretch are back-to-back two-home run games.

"When you plug a guy in, whether it's injury or a doubleheader or whatever, and he gets this hot, that's such an added bonus," manager Terry Francona said of Raburn. "You can't flip a switch on when a guy plays, but he's been so hot. We've been able to hit him all over the lineup."

Taking the hill for Cleveland is Justin Masterson, who struck out nine batters at Kansas City on Sunday but also allowed seven runs on nine hits. He entered that start 4-1 with a 1.85 ERA.

Masterson will be opposed by Minnesota's Pedro Hernandez, who grinded out five scoreless innings against the Rangers on Saturday for his first big league win. The left-hander gave up only five hits in what was his first start since April 7.

"Hernandez was fantastic," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did exactly what was asked of him. He got us through those five innings, even though he hadn't started in like three weeks."

Minnesota avoided a three-game sweep at Detroit by taking Wednesday's series finale, 6-2. Twins hitters struck out 11 times in that game, but starting pitcher Scott Diamond held the Tigers to two runs on four hits over six innings. It marked Diamond's fifth straight start against Detroit in which he allowed two runs or fewer while going at least six innings.

Joe Mauer, who caught each of the Twins' first 23 games of the season, was given Wednesday off as he battles a 3-for-34 rut at the plate. Gardenhire hopes a couple days of rest will get his five-time All-Star back on track.

The Twins took 12 of 18 against the Tribe last season, and they have won six of their last eight in Cleveland.

05/03 10:27:56 ET

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