(Sports Network) - The Minnesota Twins are on the verge of their second straight American League Central title, but may not have reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer in the lineup tonight in the opener of a three-game series versus the Cleveland Indians at Target Field.
Mauer left Sunday's 6-2 loss to Oakland with a sore knee suffered in the sixth inning after grounding out. According to manager Rod Gardenhire, the injury isn't believed to be serious and the catcher is day-to-day.
"I was running down the baseline," Mauer said on the Twins' website. "It started getting a little worse and worse, and I thought it was the right time to get out of the game."
Mauer went 1-for-3 at the plate, while Michael Cuddyer and Jim Thome both homered for Minnesota, which entered the Oakland series on a five-game winning streak. The Twins lost two of three to the A's and still sit 10 games ahead of Chicago for the AL Central lead.
Twins co-ace Francisco Liriano was hammered for five runs and seven hits in five innings to absorb the loss.
Minnesota lefty Brian Duensing hasn't suffered defeat in almost a month and shoots for his third straight win Monday. Duensing began the run with eight innings of one-run ball versus Kansas City on Sept. 8, then topped the White Sox last Wednesday with six innings of two-run ball.
Duensing pushed his record to 9-2 in 50 games (10 starts) this season to go along with a 2.07 earned run average. He is 1-0 with a 3.65 ERA in five career games (1 start) against the Indians and beat them on August 8 this season.
Cleveland is playing out the string and had a chance for a three-game sweep of Kansas City over the weekend before losing Sunday's series finale, 6-4. Shin- Soo Choo's two-run homer in the first inning didn't hold up for the Indians. Choo also stole a base and now has 20 homers and 20 stolen bases for the second straight season.
"Last year, I did it in my first full year in the big leagues. A lot of people said I was lucky. I showed this year I can do it again," Choo said.
The Indians got three hits out of Drew Sutton and a rough start from Josh Tomlin. Tomlin was touched for six runs in five innings to suffer the loss.
Jeanmar Gomez gets the nod for the Tribe Monday night and he's 3-4 with a 4.02 earned run average in nine starts. In his first season in the big leagues, Gomez has lost two straight starts and four decisions in a row. He is coming off last Wednesday's 7-0 loss versus the Angels in which he allowed all seven runs -- six earned -- in just three innings.
Gomez did not record a decision in a 7-6 win over Minnesota on August 6, when he threw 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The Venezuelan right-hander is 1-3 in four starts away from Progressive Field.
The Twins are 9-6 against the AL Central-rival Indians this season and have won four of the previous five matchups between the clubs.