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09/19/10 1:37 PM ET

Indians look to stall Twins' plans in AL Central

As it seems the Twins are destined to return to the playoffs for the sixth time in the past nine years, the road in 2010 has been a bit smoother than past attempts. A series against the Indians could further help solidify Minnesota's return to the postseason.

For a team that has played game No. 163 in each of the past two seasons (successful against the Tigers last year, while falling to the White Sox in 2008), the Twins have made this year's run look remarkably easy.

They've won seven of their past 10, opening up a 9 1/2-game lead against second-place Chicago, which is the largest lead among all the division races in baseball.

"The goal here is, obviously, to make the playoffs and go deep in the playoffs," Twins rookie third baseman Danny Valencia said.

Meanwhile, the Indians -- 27 games behind Minnesota in the Central -- are coming off a series defeat at the hands of the Royals.

No question, the Twins are a different club without the services of catcher Joe Mauer, who left the seventh inning of Sunday's 6-2 loss to the A's with a left knee injury. He was replaced by Jose Mijares and is day to day.

Mijares could be behind the plate Monday to catch starter Brian Duensing, who has been solid for the Twins in his past 10 starts.

He's 9-2 with a 2.07 ERA this year, having lost just once since July 28. He's won his last two decisions, including a 9-3 victory against the White Sox on Sept. 15.

"I don't think he's going to end up in the bullpen anymore," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said after Duensing's last outing. "I think he's probably solidified himself as a starter, at least in our eyes.

"He's in the rotation, he's going to be in the rotation and I think our future is pretty bright with him in it."

The Indians will counter with rookie Jeanmar Gomez, who is winless in his past five outings after going 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA over the first four starts of his big league career.

Twins: Rookie has memorable afternoon Sunday
With a 2-for-4 performance on Sunday, rookie outfielder Ben Revere picked up his first two big league hits. ... Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth inning after arguing about a double play. ... Outfielder Denard Span (shoulder) was out of the Minnesota lineup on Sunday for a third straight game.

Indians: Choo reaches 20-20 mark again
Cleveland outfielder Shin-Soo Choo reached 20 homers and 20 steals for the second straight year on Sunday.

"Last year, I did it for the first time in my first full year," Choo said. "A lot of players could say maybe I was lucky and only did it one time. I showed them I can do it again."

Worth noting
Choo has hit five homers in his past 13 at-bats. ... Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is riding a 19-game hitting streak, the longest active streak in baseball.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.