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The Cleveland Indians are one of the surprise stories in the majors and will begin the second half just 1 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. The Minnesota Twins, who host the Indians on Friday, have their sights focused firmly on the future. The Twins are heading toward another losing campaign but will be a team to watch as the trade deadline approaches.
Minnesota has several intriguing pieces that could be dealt, led by former MVP Justin Morneau. Cleveland did most of its building over the winter but could be in the market for a bullpen arm or two at the July 31 deadline. The Indians, who rank fifth in the majors in runs scored, will play 13 of their next 16 games against sub-.500 teams as they try to keep the pressure on the Tigers.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, STO (Cleveland), FSN North (Minnesota)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Indians LH Scott Kazmir (5-4, 4.60 ERA) vs. Twins RH Mike Pelfrey (4-7, 5.55)
Kazmir was picked up on a minor-league contract in the winter and is now one of the anchors of the Cleveland rotation. The veteran left-hander surrendered three or fewer earned runs in each of his last five starts and beat Kansas City on Saturday while allowing two runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. In beating Minnesota on June 21, Kazmir yielded a run on five hits while striking out seven in seven innings.
Pelfrey has posted two straight quality starts since coming off the disabled list, but he served up a pair of home runs at Tampa Bay while suffering the loss Saturday. The veteran sinkerball specialist has completed seven innings in only one of 16 starts this season. Pelfrey earned a win at the Indians on May 5, striking out seven and allowing one run in six innings.
1. Indians 2B Jason Kipnis drove in a run with a ground-rule double in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
2. Minnesota C Joe Mauer started and went 1-for-2 for the AL team.
3. Cleveland is 4-2 against Minnesota this season.
PREDICTION: Indians 7, Twins 4