MINNEAPOLIS -- Through 18 meetings this season, the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians are all square at nine wins each after Minnesota's dramatic 12-inning 2-1 victory on Saturday night in the second of a four-game series at Target Field.
Joe Mauer's run-scoring single in the bottom of the 12th inning plated Brian Dozier after the Twins second baseman was advanced to second on a balk called on Indians reliever Joe Colon.
Since Mike Napoli's impressive 456-foot home run to Target Field's upper deck on Friday gave Cleveland a 5-4 lead in the top of the fifth, the two teams have scored a total of three runs in 16 1/2 innings. Both bullpens have been outstanding in the series, combining to allow just one run and 10 hits in 21 2/3 innings to go with 10 walks and 13 strikeouts.
"They kept marching guys out there and we couldn't find a way to score," Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the Indians' bullpen after Saturday's game.
Cleveland catcher Chris Gimenez credited both teams with what he called "a very, very well-pitched game" after they played 9 1/2 innings of scoreless baseball. He also said the extra workload could be beneficial to the Indians not just for the short term but in the bigger picture.
"It's really good for a lot of our younger guys to get some of these experiences, especially in these types of games," Gimenez said. "We're coming down to the end of the season and any type of experience can help like that for the long run."
But fatigue could be a factor, as Cleveland and Minnesota prepare to play their final two games of the season against each other beginning with Sunday's matinee. It's not going out on a limb to say both managers would likely prefer to see their starters pitch deep into Sunday's game.
Indians manager Terry Francona appears to be the most likely to get his wish granted with starter Corey Kluber (15-9, 3.16 ERA) taking the mound. Kluber is 1-1 this season and 7-5 in his career with a 3.73 ERA against the Twins.
More impressively, Kluber is 7-1 in his last 11 starts and has struck out at least seven batters 10 times during that span, including a season-high 11 in Cleveland's 8-4 win over Minnesota on Aug. 31.
Molitor will counter with rookie Jose Berrios (2-5, 9.21) who was dominant for Triple-A Rochester this season, going 10-5 in 17 starts with a 2.51 ERA while striking out 125 and walking 36.
But the major leagues have been a different story for Berrios, who has struggled mightily at times for the Twins and is 0-4 in his last five starts. Berrios, 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA against the Indians this season, picked up his most recent victory with a six-inning effort in a 12-5 Minnesota win at Cleveland on Aug. 1.