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American League Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, September 20th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Twins (62-87) at Cleveland Indians (61-88), 12:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Minnesota - Esmerling Vasquez (0-2, 7.53) Cleveland - Corey Kluber (1-4, 5.48)
(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins have certainly enjoyed playing the Cleveland Indians this season.
The Twins take on their AL Central rival for the final time in 2012 and hope to cap the season series with their first three-game sweep in Cleveland in over 21 years.
Minnesota lost its first three games this year against Cleveland, including the first two encounters at home, but have since won 12 of the 14 matchups. The Twins won their fifth in row over the Indians on Wednesday, riding an offensive contribution from Josh Willingham to a 6-4 win.
Willingham had four hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in four runs. He helped get Liam Hendriks the first victory of his career after the hurler yielded just two runs and a pair of hits over six innings.
"It was a nice win for us, and was nice to get the young man a win," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire of Hendriks. "Him and [Twins catcher Chris Herrmann] got together and did a nice job and put us in a position to win a game, and fortunately for us, we hung in there."
Minnesota had lost five of six prior to this set, but is now looking for its first sweep in Cleveland since taking all three games of a series from June 14-16, 1991.
Jason Kipnis had two RBI and Vinny Rottino scored two runs for Cleveland, which had dropped nine of its last 11 overall.
Zach McAllister struggled in taking the loss, giving up four runs and eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings.
"He had a very low percentage of first-pitch strikes, and couldn't put guys away at some point," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "The righties were kind of giving him a lot of issues today."
Esmerling Vasquez aims to pitch the Twins to the rare sweep and pick up his first victory of 2012 in the process. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 7.53 earned run average through three starts after going 9-6 with a 2.78 ERA in 31 games at Triple-A, including eight starts, this year.
Vasquez faced the Indians for the first time on Sept. 9 and did not get a decision, lasting just three innings and giving up four runs on three hits and five walks in his club's 8-7 win.
The 28-year-old then picked up a loss versus the Chicago White Sox on Friday, getting touched for three runs on three hits and another four walks in 5 2/3 innings.
He has issued 13 hits and 12 free passes over his 14 1/3 innings with Minnesota.
Cleveland's Corey Kluber didn't fare much better opposite Vasquez on Sept. 9 and hopes for better results today.
The 26-year-old righty also got a no-decision in that meeting, yielding five runs -- four earned -- over 3 2/3 innings.
Kluber then lost to the Detroit Tigers on Friday, charged with four runs on eight hits and two walks in five frames.
"I think that more recently it's been that I have a plan on how to attack opposing hitters, but they also have a plan," said Kluber. "I need to do a better job of recognizing that and changing my game, but that's part of learning in the majors."
Kluber is 1-4 with a 5.48 ERA in nine starts this season and will face the Twins for the third time in his career. He owns a 4.66 ERA against them without a decision.
09/20 10:28:27 ET