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Twins Can Clinch AL Central Tonight

(Sports Network) – The Minnesota Twins can become the first team in the majors to clinch a postseason berth tonight, but will need some help doing it. They will shoot for a second straight win versus the Cleveland Indians in the continuation of a three-game series at Target Field.

Another victory for the Twins coupled with a loss by the Chicago White Sox would give them their second straight division title and sixth in the last nine seasons. The Twins are 11 games ahead of the White Sox for the American League Central lead with 12 to go and have a magic number of two for a division crown.

In Monday’s 9-3 victory over the Indians, Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run homer and scored three times for the Twins, who got a solo homer from Danny Valencia and two RBI from both Denard Span and Delmon Young. Brian Duensing pushed his mark to 10-2 with six innings of three-run ball and struck out six batters.

“At first, it was a pretty intense game, until we broke it open there,” Cuddyer said after the game. “It was a big win, we needed it. Hopefully, we can get the next two.”

The Twins played without catcher and reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer because of a sore knee suffered on Sunday against Oakland. Mauer is expected to undergo an MRI after the swelling goes down and is day-to-day. Outfielder Jason Kubel could return to the lineup Tuesday and has missed four straight games with a balky left wrist.

Scott Baker gets the call for Minnesota tonight and hasn’t pitched since September 2 because of elbow tendinitis. The right-hander is 5-0 in his last eight starts and did not record a decision his last time out against Detroit at Target Field. In the 10-9 loss to the Tigers, Baker lasted just two innings and allowed two runs on three hits to remain at 12-9 through 27 starts.

Baker lost to the Indians on July 19 this season and is 7-7 with a 3.85 ERA in 18 career starts against them.

Cleveland has dropped back-to-back games since a three-game winning streak and received a poor outing from Jeanmar Gomez last night. Gomez was slapped with the loss for permitting eight runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

“Gomez struggled with his command,” said Indians manager Manny Acta. “He was down in the count a lot today. He has had some issues finishing innings off in the last couple outings, including today. Most of the runs he gave up were after two outs.”

Andy Marte ended with two hits and two RBI, while Drew Sutton had an RBI in defeat.

Acta hopes Fausto Carmona can keep the Twins from moving closer to a division title when takes the rubber tonight. Carmona is 1-0 in his last two starts since a personal six-start losing streak. He posted a no-decision in last Thursday’s 3-2 win over the Angels, as Carmona was touched for a pair of runs and four hits in seven innings.

The righty is 12-14 with a 3.81 ERA in 30 starts this season and 6-5 in 12 road outings. Carmona just beat the Twins on September 10 with a three-hit shutout, the third of his career, but is 4-8 in 17 career games (13 starts) against Minnesota.

The Twins are 10-6 against the AL Central-rival Indians this season and have won five of the previous six matchups between the clubs.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.