The Cleveland Indians hoped the return of a star left fielder would provide a boost for their inconsistent offense. However, those aspirations never materialized.
After placing former Silver Slugger Award winner Michael Brantley back on the disabled list, the Indians will try to avoid their first back-to-back losses in two weeks in Sunday's home series finale against the AL-worst Minnesota Twins.
Brantley was an All-Star in 2014 when he had career highs with a .327 average, 20 home runs and 97 RBIs before batting .310 with 15 homers and 84 RBIs last season.
Brantley, who turns 29 on Sunday, missed the first 16 games this season after undergoing shoulder surgery in November. He was projected to have a tremendous impact upon his return but was only able to hit .231 with no homers in 11 games before getting shut down due to soreness and fatigue in his repaired shoulder.
He was placed on the 15-day DL before Saturday's 6-3 loss that evened this three-game series against the Twins. Cleveland, which had won six of its previous seven home games, has batted. 194 while totaling 14 runs over its last seven defeats.
"We need to look at the big picture and take care of him," manager Terry Francona said. "I think he understood and I think this makes sense. Hopefully, we can kind of figure out how best to get him back."
Yan Gomes had his second home run in as many games Saturday and his third in five meetings with the Twins (9-26), who snapped an eight-game losing streak.
Now Tyler Duffey will try to keep those bats quiet and help Minnesota claim only its second back-to-back wins since a season-high four-game run April 15-18.
The right-hander has pitched well since joining the rotation, though he's received one run from the offense in each of his three starts. He allowed three runs with nine strikeouts over seven innings in a 3-1 loss at the Chicago White Sox.
Duffey (0-2, 2.60 ERA) has a 1.46 ERA in two starts against the Indians. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Carlos Santana are a combined 1 for 16 off him.
Cleveland (17-16) will give the ball to Trevor Bauer in hopes it can avoid its first back-to-back losses since getting swept at Philadelphia from April 29-May 1.
After allowing six runs over 9 2/3 innings in his first two starts since replacing injured right-hander Carlos Carrasco, Bauer (3-0, 3.86) gave up three hits and struck out a season-high seven in Tuesday's 4-0 win at Houston.
"We've been trying to get him to simplify things," catcher Chris Gimenez, who was acquired from Texas on May 4, told the league's official website. "He's got too good of stuff to go out there and overthink it."
The right-hander had a 6.00 ERA in his six starts versus the Twins before limiting them to one run and two hits over seven innings in a 4-2 loss in October.
Oswaldo Arcia is 5 for 10 with four home runs lifetime off Bauer. Joe Mauer is batting .353 with a homer in 17 at-bats in the matchup, but Trevor Plouffe (3 for 16), Miguel Sano (1 for 6) and Brian Dozier (2 for 20) have struggled.
Juan Centeno had his first career home run Saturday. Minnesota has totaled 12 runs and 19 hits in this series after putting up eight and 25 in its previous four.