Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins
- Cleveland has won nine of its 15 games against Minnesota this season, however, they have split the six matchups at Target Field.
- At 17-6, the Indians own the best record in the majors so far this month while the Twins are tied for the third-worst record in baseball at 8-16.
- The Twins have just five wins in their last 21 games. Cleveland has outscored its opponents 29-11 during its current six-game winning streak.
- Andrew Albers is 0-4 in his last seven starts after going 2-0 in his first two starts of the season. Albers has received just a single run of support in his last five starts, and none in the last three starts.
- Zach McAllister has won each of his last two games, posting a 1.54 ERA in those contests. McAllister has won each of his two starts against the Twins this season.
- Jason Kipnis is hitting .414 with four doubles, three triples, four homers and 21 RBI in 15 games against the Twins this season. Kipnis has 34 RBI in his career against Minnesota -- the most RBI in his career against any opponent.
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By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- The Cleveland Indians have gotten hot at just the right time, and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down.
Looking to hold on to the AL's second wild-card spot, the Indians go for a seventh consecutive win Thursday night in the opener of a four-game road set against the lowly Minnesota Twins.
Michael Brantley collected three more hits and Nick Swisher clubbed his sixth homer this month as Cleveland (88-70) beat the Chicago White Sox 7-2 on Wednesday. Winners in 16 of 21, the Indians remained one game behind wild card-leading Tampa Bay and one ahead of Texas with four to play.
"We're in control of our own destiny. That's all you can ask for at this time of year," designated hitter Jason Giambi said. "We've just got to play baseball, that's all we gotta do. We don't have to worry about anybody else beating anybody else. We've just get to go out and play baseball, which is the fun part of the game."
Cleveland, which has outscored opponents 29-11 during its win streak, has taken four of its last five against Minnesota (66-92).
The Indians now turn to Zach McAllister (9-9, 3.88 ERA), who is looking to win a career-high third consecutive start after posting a 1.54 ERA in his last two. The right-hander yielded one run over five-plus innings in Friday's rain-shortened 2-1 victory over Houston.
"This is an exciting time right now in the year. To be where we are right now, it's awesome," he told MLB's official website. "You can't ask for anything better right now."
McAllister won three straight starts Aug. 13-24, a stretch that included two victories over Minnesota. He allowed three earned runs in 13 1-3 innings and held the Twins to a .170 average in those outings.
Chris Herrmann is 0 for 8 against McAllister, and Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon and Trevor Plouffe are all 1 for 7. Josh Willingham, though, is 6 for 10 with three homers.
Hoping to avoid a seventh loss in eight games, the Twins fell 1-0 to Detroit on Wednesday as the Tigers clinched the AL Central.
"It leaves a nasty feeling in you," Dozier said. "Kind of a hungry feeling. It's what you play for."
Minnesota, which was limited to three singles and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position, is batting .205 in such situations while losing 16 of 21.
The Twins will try to bounce back behind rookie Andrew Albers (2-4, 3.98). The left-hander, who threw a two-hitter in a 3-0 win over Cleveland on Aug. 12 in his second big-league start, has since gone 0-4 with a 5.84 ERA over seven outings.
Albers' woes continued Friday, giving up eight runs - three earned - in 4 2-3 innings in an 11-0 loss at Oakland.
"You just keep battling, keep trying to make pitches and just keep working at it," he said. "Unfortunately tonight I just wasn't able to battle through it often enough."
He will have to be careful with Brantley, who is 17 for 35 (.486) with two homers and eight RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak. The left fielder, though, is batting .179 in 15 games against the Twins this year.
All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis, in contrast, is hitting .403 with 11 extra-base hits - four homers - and 23 RBIs during an 18-game stretch in the series dating to last season.
Updated September 26, 2013