Cleveland Indians starter Josh Tomlin will ironically make his long-awaited season debut in the same place he made his last major-league appearance - Target Field.
Although he is rusty, the Indians have to like their chances of winning because the Minnesota Twins are starting a rookie who was knocked around in his big-league debut and hasn't pitched in over a week.
Tomlin figures to have the edge against unheralded Tyler Duffey on Saturday night when the Indians look to defeat the Twins for the fourth straight meeting.
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After missing nearly the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Tomlin went 6-9 with a 4.76 ERA last year before undergoing shoulder surgery prior to this season. Cleveland (54-60) wants to see how he will perform, and the veteran right-hander is eager to get back on the mound.
"It feels good," Tomlin told MLB's official website. "It's kind of been another injury-stricken year for me. In that aspect, it's been pretty disappointing. But, to be able to get my way back here and to be able to help contribute to this team, it's a good feeling."
He closed out 2014 by failing to retire the only batter he faced Sept. 19 when Trevor Plouffe delivered a game-winning RBI single in the 10th inning of the Twins' 5-4 victory. Tomlin is 2-3 with a 6.43 ERA in six starts versus Minnesota, allowing 12 runs over 10 innings in two on the road.
Joe Mauer is 6 for 13 versus Tomlin and Plouffe is 3 for 8 with a homer.
Minnesota (57-58) gave Trevor May a spot start in Friday's 6-1 loss to open this series, with the right-hander logging three innings. That puts pressure on Duffey (0-1, 27.00 ERA) to help rest the bullpen, and it's unlikely the 24-year-old right-hander will deliver.
He was pounded for six runs over two innings in his debut, a 9-7 loss at Toronto on Aug. 5. This will be his last start before he will be sent down Sunday when Tommy Milone is activated from the disabled list.
Duffey realizes his days are numbered.
"I figured I'd just be hanging out there for a while so I'm just glad to be here. Hopefully I'll put a good one together," Duffey said.
He'll catch a break since Cleveland All-Star Michael Brantley is expected to miss a second straight game with a sore left shoulder. Brantley is second on the club with a .312 average.
Outfielder Ryan Raburn is expected to return from a six-game absence on the bereavement list.
Cleveland cruised Friday behind Corey Kluber, who fired a one-hitter - conceding Mauer's homer in the fourth. Francisco Lindor, Lonnie Chisenhall and Mike Aviles each had three hits and Giovanny Urshela had a two-run homer in the Indians' fifth win in six games - a stretch that includes their current run over Minnesota.
Twins left fielder Eddie Rosario has an outfield assist in three straight games and 10 overall to lead all rookies.
"He's making people aware that if you're going to run on him, you're at a little bit of peril there," manager Paul Molitor said.