Indians-Twins rained out in advance; makeup date in June

Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — The rain gave the Minnesota Twins a reprieve from their three-game losing streak. They caught a break with Cleveland’s rearranged rotation, too.

The Twins will take what they can get. After falling back to the .500 mark following an encouraging early start, manager Paul Molitor was eager to gauge his fledgling team’s fortitude for escaping a slump.

“My gut would say we’re probably better,” Molitor said. “We have some people that know how to handle that fairly well. We’ve been through it enough that we should have a little experience in that regard. We still have some chances here.”

Email newsletter signup

About 4½ hours before the scheduled first pitch on Wednesday, Twins President Dave St. Peter announced the game will be rescheduled as part of a split Saturday doubleheader with afternoon and night games on June 17, when the Indians return to Minnesota for a weekend series and presumably better weather. Rain was falling by midafternoon, and the evening forecast showed no sign of a letup that could create a dry window in which to play.

So after losing 3-1 and 11-4 to the defending American League champion Indians in the first two games of the series, the Twins learned they’ll miss Cleveland ace Corey Kluber. In the last game of the set, Trevor Bauer (0-2, 8.44 ERA) will pitch for Cleveland on Thursday after being bumped back a day because of the rainout. That pushed Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award holder and 18-game winner in 2016, into the next series this weekend in Chicago.

The Twins (7-7) decided to skip rookie Aldalberto Mejia in the rotation and keep top starter Ervin Santana (3-0, 0.41 ERA) on schedule.

The tone for the game on Tuesday was set by an error on right fielder Max Kepler, when he nonchalantly raised his glove to make a catch but took his eye off the ball and dropped it with two outs to allow a run to score, giving the Indians a 2-0 lead. That was the first error on a Twins outfielder this season.

Though there’s already obvious improvement, particularly on the pitching staff, from the team that finished an all-time worst 59-103 last year, Molitor still expressed mild disappointment with the performance of the past few days. The Twins have faced only AL Central opponents so far, missing some opportunities to stay ahead of their division rivals.

“I’m going to go to sleep tonight, wake up the same way I do every day and be hungry to win with the same mindset,” Kepler said afterward. “All I can do is hope all my teammates come back the same way.”

This was the first postponement for the Twins this year and only their 16th in eight seasons at Target Field. They’ve had 33 games delayed by rain since moving outdoors, including a 36-minute wait to play last week against Chicago.

The Indians lost seven of their nine games heading into this trip to Minnesota, taking the worst team ERA in the major leagues into the start of the series. Danny Salazar and Josh Tomlin have helped the starting pitching get back on track, and newcomer Edwin Encarnacion, who is only batting .212, hit his second home run on Tuesday after going 12 straight games without going deep.

“Little by little,” he said through a translator, “I feel better.”

Manager Terry Francona said he sees the Indians gaining “another gear” once the 34-year-old slugger with 312 career home runs gets in a groove.

“I don’t have the scientific formula, but good hitters, as cold as they get, they get just that hot,” Francona said. “They get to their level and when he does, it will be fun to watch because he’ll do some damage.”