(Sports Network) - The Cleveland Indians' hot streak has put their playoff
destiny in nobody's hands but their own.
Currently the holders of the AL's first wild card spot, the Tribe can punch
their first ticket to the postseason since 2007 on Sunday afternoon with their
first ever four-game road sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
The Indians have rattled off a season-high nine wins in a row, their longest
string of victories since a 10-game run from Aug. 17-27, 2008. Their 5-1 win
over the Twins on Saturday put them a game ahead of Tampa Bay in the wild card
The Rays lost to the Toronto Blue Jays, falling into a tie with the Texas
Rangers for the second wild card berth. It also gave Cleveland a magic number
of one to lock up home-field advantage for the wild card game and assured the
Tribe no worse than a regular-season tiebreaker for the final playoff spot.
A loss on Sunday and things could get messy for the Indians. That would create
a three-way tie for the two playoff spots if both the Rays and Rangers win
today. That would set up two tiebreakers to be played on Monday and Tuesday,
respectively. Cleveland would host Tampa Bay on Monday, with the winner
advancing and the loser playing at Texas for the second spot.
Ubaldo Jimenez will try to prevent the Indians from having to worry about
tiebreakers and looks to stay unbeaten this month. The righty is 3-0 with a
1.04 earned run average and 38 strikeouts in five September outings this year.
Jimenez did not get a decision last time out versus the Chicago White Sox,
scattering two runs on five hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings. He also
fanned seven and is 12-9 with a 3.38 ERA in 31 starts this year.
It has been a nice bounce back season for the 29-year-old, who lost 17 games
and had a 5.40 ERA in 31 starts last year with the Tribe.
Jimenez has faced the Twins once this season and took a 5-1 loss on Aug. 23,
though he only allowed two runs and fanned 10 over six innings. He is 2-3
against them lifetime with a 3.21 ERA in five meetings.
Scott Diamond will probably look forward to putting this season behind him
today. The Minnesota lefty went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 27 starts last year,
but is 6-12 with a 5.54 ERA in 23 outings in 2013 ahead of Sunday's start.
Diamond has won just once since June 26, losing six of seven decisions. He is
coming off a 4-2 setback to Detroit on Tuesday, giving up all four runs on
nine hits and a walk in 6 1/3 innings.
The 27-year-old is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA in six lifetime encounters with the
Indians, giving up five earned runs over 4 2/3 innings of a loss in his only
meeting with them this year.
In Saturday's meeting, Scott Kazmir struck out 11 over six innings of one-run
ball, while Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer in the victory for Cleveland.
"It's exciting. It's fun," Twins manager Terry Francona said. "I know I'm
supposed to come up with some stuff to say, but it's just, you show up and
play. We need to be one run better tomorrow and we'll go from there."
Cole De Vries went five innings in his second start of the season and gave up
five runs, six hits and a walk for Minnesota. The right-hander's seven
strikeouts came in the first four innings.
"It's frustrating and flustering," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We
haven't played good and it has not been fun. I wish I could have all the
answers, but the guys are out there and they're not feeling too good right
now. They were pushing to try to win a ballgame.
Minnesota has lost five in a row and nine of its last 10 games, assuring that
Gardenhire will not reach 1,000 career wins this season. The Twins' manager
since 2002, Gardenhire is not under contract for next season and is expected
to meet with the club after the end of the season to decide his future.
Cleveland is 12-6 versus the Twins this season.
The Sports Network