The Cleveland Guardians will look to maintain their momentum when they open a three-game series against the host Minnesota Twins on Tuesday evening in Minneapolis.
Cleveland is coming off its sixth consecutive series win after taking two of three games from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend. The Guardians have won six of their last seven games, nine of their last 11 and 15 of their last 19. They are also 5-1 on the current nine-game road trip.
Guardians manager Terry Francona praised his team after their most recent contest, a 5-3 victory Sunday against the Dodgers.
"We're asking a lot of these guys," Francona said. "I mean, we're asking them to play the game with energy every day and I know they get tired, but they bring it. And just to hear their enthusiasm during that game, man, that got me going."
Now comes a tough series against a division rival. The Twins' lead over the Guardians in the American League Central has shrunk to one game entering this week's series. It was five games at the start of the month.
Minnesota has alternated wins and losses in each of its previous eight games and is coming off a series loss on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Tuesday's game will mark the start of a six-game homestand for the Twins, who are 20-14 in their own park this season compared with 18-16 away from home.
"We played some good baseball on this trip," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "(It was) probably one of our tougher games, overall days, (on Sunday) at the end. That doesn't feel good, but we'll be fine. We'll regroup and be ready to go on Tuesday."
Cleveland hopes to welcome outfielder/designated hitter Franmil Reyes back to the lineup in Minnesota. Reyes has been sidelined since May 24 because of an injured hamstring.
In 35 games this season, Reyes is hitting .195 with three homers and 12 RBIs. He slugged 30 homers in 115 games last season.
An even bigger boost could come from Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez, who hopes to return to the lineup after sitting out the past two games because of thumb soreness. Ramirez, a three-time All-Star, is hitting .305 with 16 homers and 62 RBIs in 60 games.
Twins right-hander Joe Ryan (5-3, 2.81 ERA) will try to quiet Cleveland's lineup. Ryan is looking to bounce back from a loss in his most recent start last Tuesday, when he allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners.
Before that setback, Ryan had reeled off back-to-back wins over the Guardians on May 15 and the Kansas City Royals on May 21. He limited Cleveland to one run on four hits in six innings in his first matchup against them this season.
In three career starts against Cleveland, Ryan is 2-0 with a 1.00 ERA. He has allowed two runs on eight hits in 18 innings and walked one while striking out 14.
The Guardians have not named a starter for Tuesday's series opener. Right-hander Triston McKenzie (4-5, 2.96) is slated to start the second game of the series, and right-hander Zach Plesac (2-4, 4.41) is penciled in for the finale.
--Field Level Media