THE STORY: The Cleveland Indians are playing for second place in the American League Central. The Minnesota Twins are trying to get out of last. The teams open a three-game series at Target Field on Friday night. The Indians were outscored 26-9 in a three-game sweep in Texas while the Twins have lost five in a row and nine of 10. Cleveland is three games under .500 for the first time this season. The Twins have won six of the 11 meetings thus far this season.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, STO (Cleveland), FS-North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians RH Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11, 4.61 ERA) vs. Twins RH Kevin Slowey (0-5, 6.07 ERA).
Jimenez is 3-2 in eight starts with the Indians. He has shown signs of being able to dominate, but still has problems with consistency. Jimenez defeated the Chicago White Sox in last start. He allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, but walked five and was removed after throwing 105 pitches. Jimenez is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in two career starts against the Twins.
Slowey hasn’t won since defeating the Oakland Athletics on Sept. 18 of last season. He has lost all five starts since being put into the rotation in mid-August. Slowey allowed six runs – including two homers – in four innings against the Detroit Tigers in his last start. He’s 6-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 10 career starts against the Indians. Jim Thome is 1-for-8 with five strikeouts lifetime against Slowey.
ABOUT THE INDIANS (72-75): The Indians hoped Shin-Soo Choo could salvage something from his season in the last two weeks, but that idea ended after one at-bat Thursday. Choo was activated from the disabled list, but re-injured his left oblique muscle while grounding out in the first inning and is done for the season. Choo played in only 85 games because of a broken hand and the oblique injury. He ends the season batting .259 with eight homers and 36 RBIs.
ABOUT THE TWINS (59-89): The numbers tell Minnesota’s sad story. The Twins have been outplayed in all phases of game the entire season. Minnesota has been outscored by a 727-559 margin. The run differential of 168 is the largest in the majors. Minnesota is 27th in runs scored while only one team (Baltimore) has allowed more runs than Twins pitchers. Minnesota has been shut out 13 times – one short of the club record – and is averaging 3.77 runs a game.
FINAL PITCH: Michael Cuddyer broke out of an 0-for-19 slump with two hits against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.