The Cleveland Indians had their progress slowed by one of their worst pitching performances of the season. Judging by his recent starts in Minnesota, Justin Masterson could provide a better effort Saturday night.
While seeking a season-high third straight win, the right-hander will try to help the Indians recover from their lopsided series-opening defeat to the Twins.
Before heading to Minnesota, Cleveland had won three of four and moved within 3 12 games of AL Central-leading Chicago, but didn't help itself Friday with an 11-0 drubbing at Target Field. The Indians (50-50) produced only three singles as their five-game winning streak at Minnesota ended.
"One more example that every day is a new day in baseball. There's no such thing as momentum," manager Manny Acta said.
Minnesota's Josh Willingham homered and drove in four runs for the second time in three games. Justin Morneau also added a three-run shot during only the sixth win in 19 contests for the Twins (41-58).
"It starts with those big guys," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When they put it in the seats, it makes things much easier."
Masterson (7-8, 4.12 ERA) will try to keep the ball in the park and deliver another strong performance. The right-hander gave up one run over 7 1-3 innings during a 3-1 win over Baltimore on Monday, ending Cleveland's four-game skid while improving to 2-0 with a 2.41 ERA over his last three starts.
"Masterson did a tremendous job," Acta said. "He did what you expect a No. 1 guy to do, go out and shut down the opposition."
In only matchup with the Twins this season, Masterson allowed three runs over six innings and suffered the loss in a 6-3 defeat. He's fared better recently in Minnesota, however, going 1-0 with a 0.66 ERA in his last two games there.
Masterson earned that lone win in 11 career starts against the Twins on Sept. 18 after allowing three runs - one earned - over six innings of a 6-5 victory. He's 1-4 with a 3.61 in his starts versus Minnesota.
He'll try to earn another win over the Twins while pitching against Samuel Deduno (1-0, 3.94), who is seeking to build on his first major league victory.
In his third career start Sunday in Kansas City, the right-hander gave up one run and six hits over 6 1-3 innings. He also issued three walks in that 7-5 victory after handing out five to Baltimore on July 17.
"His ball-to-strike ratio (31 to 73) was a lot better," Gardenhire told the team's website. "He threw the ball over a lot more. He was very effective and got us deep into the game."
Deduno, pitching for his third team in three major league seasons, is making his first start against the Indians.
The right-hander won't have Trevor Plouffe to help out. The outfielder, second on the Twins with 19 homers and hitting .409 in his last six games against Cleveland, was placed on the disabled list after aggravating his right thumb in batting practice before Friday's game.