Tribe Favs in Minnesota
Casey Blake got off to a slow start, and so did the Cleveland Indians.
With the third baseman showing signs of emerging from his early-season funk, the Indians hope to do the same.
Blake and the Indians go for their season-high third straight win on Saturday when they continue their three-game series against the AL Central rival Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cleveland –123 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 8.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 81% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland -123 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Blake entered this series batting .152 with no home runs and seven RBIs through 14 games, but raised his average 28 points and hit his first homer of the year to lead the Indians (7-10) to a 4-0 victory Friday night.
"I feel like I am (heating up)," Blake said after delivering two of the team's five hits Friday. "It's still the early going here and this game is about making adjustments. It's about confidence and I'm starting to gain some confidence now."
The same can be said for Cleveland, which has outscored opponents 15-1 in back-to-back wins after dropping six of its previous seven games and 10 of 15 overall to start the season.
Minnesota (7-10) appears to be headed in the opposite direction. The Twins have been outscored 11-3 in consecutive losses and have dropped five of six after winning five of their previous seven.
To get back on track, they may need to stop Blake, a familiar face at the Metrodome. Blake, who played parts of three seasons with the Twins early in his career from 2000-02, is batting .318 against his former club since the beginning of the 2006 season, and is 7-for-13 in his last three games in Minneapolis.
"I think it is just being somewhat comfortable here," Blake told the Indians' official Web site Friday. "I am comfortable with the guys I am playing against, I know a lot of them. That might have something to do with it."
Blake's success against his former team has helped Cleveland win five straight road games against Minnesota and nine of 11 at the Metrodome since Aug. 17, 2006.
The Indians have a good shot at continuing their success against their division rivals with Paul Byrd (0-2, 6.08 ERA) taking the mound. The veteran right-hander is 10-3 with a 3.64 ERA lifetime against the Twins, including 6-1 with a 2.11 ERA in nine career starts at the Metrodome.
He was 4-0 with a 3.41 in the 2007 season series.
In his last outing, Byrd held Boston to one unearned run in six innings on Tuesday, leaving with a 2-1 lead. The Cleveland bullpen, however, gave up four runs in three innings as the Indians fell 5-3 to remain winless in Byrd's first three starts.
Minnesota starter Scott Baker (2-0, 4.34) also left his last outing with a lead, but didn't get a decision as Minnesota lost 6-5 to Detroit on Tuesday. He gave up three runs in seven innings.
Baker will need to do a better job avoiding the home run ball, as opposing hitters have taken him deep six times in his last two starts.
The right-hander is 2-4 with a 4.35 ERA in seven career starts against the Indians.