(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins have already both managed to dig themselves into a fast-growing hole in the American League Central Division standings.
The two teams will square off Friday night in the opener of a three-game set at Target Field.
Cleveland managed to snap a four-game slide on Wednesday with a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Starter Trevor Bauer did not allow a hit through the first three frames as he ran his season-opening hitless streak to nine innings. All told, the right- hander went six innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out eight and walking four.
"Overall, I think I'm off to a good start this season and I'll take where I'm at," said Bauer, who won consecutive starts for the first time in his career.
Following Bauer's exit after six innings, four relievers then combined to keep Chicago off the scoreboard. Lonnie Chisenhall had a two-run double off John Danks in the fourth to open a 3-0 lead.
Cleveland had off-days on Monday and Thursday this week, which afforded manager Terry Francona the opportunity to rest All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley (strained lower back) for both games of that series. Brantley is hopeful of returning to the lineup on Friday.
Friday's opener marks the start of a nine-game AL Central road trip for the Tribe that also includes stops in Chicago and Detroit.
Like their opponent, the Twins also had the day off Thursday. And also like the Indians, Minnesota is looking to build on a victory after snapping a three-game slide on Wednesday against Kansas City.
In fact, the Royals were the last remaining unbeaten team in the majors before Minnesota took Wednesday's finale, 3-1. Kyle Gibson tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball to improve to 4-0 in four career starts against Kansas City.
Oswaldo Arcia broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run home run in the fourth inning, which turned out to be the game-winning hit.
"It looked a lot more like the team we thought we had coming out of spring," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I know you don't want to put a lot into the losses or one win, but when you get a good starting pitching performance, it makes everybody's job a lot easier."
Molitor will turn to Mike Pelfrey to start Friday's series opener. It will be the right-hander's first home start in nearly a calendar year after undergoing season-ending surgery on his throwing elbow last May. In his 2015 debut this past Saturday, Pelfrey coughed up a pair of homers against the White Sox and wound up yielding four runs on seven hits and a walk over five innings.
Taking the hill for the Indians is reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who is still seeking his first win of the season despite two solid starts and a 2.63 ERA. The right-hander racked up 10 strikeouts with only one walk against Detroit in his last outing. He allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings and came away with a no-decision.
Cleveland had the upper hand in the head-to-head series in 2014, going 11-8 against the Twins.