The Minnesota Twins have homered eight times on their way to winning four of the five meetings against the Cleveland Indians this season.
The Twins may have a tougher time at the plate on Tuesday when they encounter right-hander Shane Bieber (5-0, 1.11 ERA), who regularly has kept them under wraps throughout his career.
Bieber improved to 4-0 with a 3.52 ERA in nine career appearances (eight starts) against Minnesota with a sizzling performance on July 30. He scattered three hits and struck out 13 batters in eight innings to pace Cleveland to a 2-0 win.
The 25-year-old Bieber has handcuffed Nelson Cruz (1-for-10, five strikeouts) in his career, although Miguel Sano (6-for-19, one homer) has enjoyed success against him.
Both Twins sluggers fared pretty well in Monday’s 3-2 series-opening win, however. Sano belted a two-run homer while Cruz also went deep for the seventh time in 10 games.
Sano is “definitely in a zone. He has a good approach, and he’s trusting what he believes (pitchers) are going to do against him,” Cruz said.
Sano has recorded an extra-base hit in eight straight games.
Sano’s streak ties him with franchise icons Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva for the second-longest run in club history behind Brian Dozier (11).
“The at-bats are excellent, but he’s scalding balls,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He really, really does make the ballpark look tiny when he hits the ball on the barrel, whether he hits it in the air and it’s leaving the yard, or even those line drives that he hits that find a little bit of space.”
Minnesota left-hander Rich Hill (1-1, 4.70 ERA) will take the mound on Tuesday after struggling in his return from an extended absence due to shoulder fatigue. Hill allowed four runs on as many hits and walked three batters in 2 2/3 innings of a 9-3 setback to Milwaukee.
“I think, just going out there and putting us in that position, is difficult,” Hill said. “It’s obviously hard for me to swallow. I need to do better than that. That’s not acceptable.”
Hill, who pitched for the Indians in 2013, owns an 0-1 record with a 7.27 ERA in eight career appearances (one start) versus Cleveland.
The 40-year-old would be wise to keep a keen eye on Cesar Hernandez, who on Monday became the first member in the 120-year history of the franchise to hit leadoff homers in back-to-back games.
Although Hernandez lamented the Indians leaving 11 runners on base in the series opener, he remained optimistic that the team will come up with the big hit in the future.
“I don’t think there’s any frustration,” Hernandez said through an interpreter, via Cleveland.com. “The hits just aren’t coming when we have runners on base. If we have a good approach and have good at-bats, they will come.”
Indians acting manager Sandy Alomar Jr. didn’t seem as patient after the game.
“We gotta start stringing hits together,” Alomar said. “We’re not doing that. That’s the ballgame right there.”
Carlos Santana has been doing his part of late. He had three singles in the series opener and has hit safely in seven of his last nine games.
–Field Level Media