The Indians are capable of playing better baseball, and they're going to have to pick it up down the stretch if they want to secure a spot in the postseason.
Cleveland followed a 1-6 homestand with a 3-0 loss in Minnesota on Monday, the first contest of a nine-game road trip that takes the team through Oakland and Los Angeles. The Indians (63-56) were in playoff position as recently as Aug. 4, but they enter Tuesday 4 1/2 games out of the second American League Wild Card spot.
The Twins will host the Tribe on Tuesday in the second of three games at Target Field. Righty Samuel Deduno (7-5, 3.38 ERA) is scheduled to throw for Minnesota, with right-hander Zach McAllister (4-7, 3.90 ERA) set to pitch for the Indians.
Including Monday's series-opening victory, the Twins (53-63) have won four of five and eight of their past 11 contests.
"We're playing pretty decent baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're winning some series and would like to do that at home against a good Cleveland team. They're in the middle of a race here. We shouldn't have to find a way to get for up games at home. We want to play in front of our people and impress. But playing Cleveland is even more fun, because they're in a race, and we know how important this is for them."
Minnesota is 27-27 at home, while the Indians are 25-31 on the road.
Following the Indians' loss on Saturday -- their sixth straight -- manager Terry Francona called a meeting with his players. They overcame a five-run deficit to win on Sunday, but lost any newfound momentum on Monday, when Andrew Albers kept them to two hits in a shutout performance in his second big league start.
"I'm pretty fond of [the team]," Francona said. "I've become pretty attached to them. I just want them to put their best foot forward every night. We kind of have to be a lunch-pail team, and I like that. But we have to make sure we do that."
Indians: Gomes one of top Tribe contributors
Tribe catcher Yan Gomes' eighth-inning single on Monday accounted for one of Cleveland's two hits. In his last 19 games, Gomes is batting .406 (26-for-64) with 10 runs scored, six doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs.
"Earlier in the year, we're trying to protect him," Francona said. "Now, we're not going to do that. He didn't come with a track record. He hits the ball to right field with authority, so he covers the whole field. Then you make a mistake down and in, he golfs it [to left field]."
Gomes was acquired in an offseason trade with Toronto. He has spent the majority of this season as Cleveland's backup catcher, but with Mark Reynolds gone, primary catcher Carlos Santana has more flexibility to shift to first base and designated hitter, giving Gomes more time behind the plate. He leads the Tribe with a .310 average.
Twins: Dozier and Plouffe latest HR hitters
The Twins scored their runs on Monday with a leadoff shot by Brian Dozier and a two-run jack by Trevor Plouffe in the second inning. Minnesota has hit 24 home runs in 17 games since July 26, the most in baseball across that span.
"We'll take the home runs, if that's the way we're going to score runs right now, as long you win ballgames. We won a series," Gardenhire said Sunday, after his team clubbed 11 homers in four games at U.S. Cellular Field. "It sure does seem like we missed a lot of opportunities, but we did put the ball in the seats."
Minnesota took three out of four games in that series against the White Sox. With 11 home runs, the Twins went deep more times in one series than any other team in baseball this season.
• With the Royals' win over Miami on Monday, Cleveland is in third place in the AL Central for the first time since June 17.
• In their past 25 meetings, the Twins are 17-8 against the Indians, with a 9-2 record at Target Field.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.