(Sports Network) – In the blink of an eye, the Twins lost one game off their advantage for first place in the American League Central at the hands of the Indians.
Minnesota will look to rebound tonight with a third straight winning start from Nick Blackburn as it resumes a three-game set with Cleveland at Progressive Field.
It took the Indians, and more specifically Fausto Carmona, just one hour and 57 minutes to hand the Twins a 2-0 defeat in Friday’s opener, dropping Minnesota’s edge over second-place Chicago to five games while snapping the club’s six-game win streak overall.
Carmona halted a six-start losing streak with his most impressive showing of the year, scattering three hits and a walk while fanning seven en route to his third career shutout and first since May 12, 2008 versus Toronto. He retired the final 16 batters faced on Friday.
“This guy’s a horse. He goes 100 pitches and he’s throwing as hard as the first inning,” Indians manager Manny Acta said of Carmona.
Matt LaPorta homered for Cleveland, which has won three of four overall.
Twins hurler Carl Pavano went a full eight innings in the loss for his seventh complete game of the season, allowing two runs on six hits.
“He did his job. He gave us a chance,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s just on a night like tonight, their guy was just — he was really good.”
Twins designated hitter Jim Thome was out of the lineup for the second straight game because of a mild abdominal strain, but could return tonight. That is good news for Blackburn, who has won his last two starts, but those wins do sandwich a loss suffered in relief to the Tigers on Aug. 2.
Blackburn made his scheduled start three days after that outing and bested the Rangers, holding them to a pair of runs over seven innings of a 6-5 triumph, improving to 9-9 this year with a 5.85 earned run average in 23 games, all but two of those starts.
The 28-year-old right-hander has struggled on the road this year, amassing a 3-7 mark and 7.93 ERA, and is 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 11 career outings versus the Indians, nine of those starts.
Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco aims for his first major league victory when he faces the Twins for the first time in his young career.
The righty went 0-4 in five starts last year, the first of his big league career, and hasn’t posted a decision in two starts this season despite only allowing five runs over 13 1/3 innings.
Carrasco, 23, held the Angels to a pair of runs on six hits over six innings on Monday, striking out six.
Minnesota has won seven of 13 games against the Indians this season, including four of the seven bouts held in Cleveland.