Cleveland Indians @ Minnesota Twins
Scheduled Start Time: 8:10 PM ET
(Sports Network) - The Cleveland Indians go after their seventh straight win and try to move one step closer to the postseason on Thursday when they open a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
Cleveland continued to roll on Wednesday, as Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer and the playoff-hopeful Indians finished their lopsided season series against the Chicago White Sox with a 7-2 victory.
The Indians, who were 17-2 this season versus the White Sox, control their postseason fate thanks to an 11-2 stretch. They lead the Texas Rangers by one game for the AL's second wild card spot with four games left in the regular season.
'It's exciting to play games that are this meaningful,' Indians manager Terry Francona said. 'We did what we needed to do.'
Cleveland will hand the ball to righty Zach McAllister on Thursday, as he tries to win his third straight start. McAllister beat Houston on Friday, as he surrendered a run and four hits in five innings to run his record to 9-9 to go along with a 3.88 ERA. He had given up a run in 6 2/3 innings in his previous start.
'This is an exciting time right now in the year. To be where we are right now, it's awesome,' McAllister said. 'You can't ask for anything better right now.'
Minnesota, meanwhile, will counter with righty Andrew Albers, who has lost his last four decisions. Albers lost his second straight start on Friday in Oakland, as he surrendered eight runs (3 earned) in just 4 2/3 frames to fall to 2-4, while raising his ERA to 3.98.
'You just keep battling, keep trying to make pitches and just keep working at it,' he said. 'Unfortunately tonight I just wasn't able to battle through it often enough.'
Minnesota is playing for very little other than pride at this point, but manager Ron Gardenhire is closing in on a significant milestone. The Twins skipper is two wins short of 1,000 for his career.
Gardenhire is in the final year of his contract and some have speculated that the 2010 AL Manager of the year may not return to the Twins next season.
Cleveland is 9-6 versus the Twins this season.