Indians manager Terry Francona stared at his lineup on Monday night, and he considered it again on Tuesday. Rather than shaking things up for his struggling offense, Francona opted to stick with virtually the same alignment.
As cold as the bats have been in the season's first six weeks, Francona remains hopeful that veterans such as Nick Swisher, Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera can turn things around.
"We're inconsistent in a few areas," Francona said prior to Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Twins. "I sat here until late last night, and I got here early this morning trying to figure out the lineup. I probably looked at it and looked at it and looked at it. And the more I looked at it, I kept coming back to the fact that, if I made drastic changes, it's not helping anybody.
"We've got Swish. We've got Carlos. Until they get hot, it's harder for us. Cabby. Those are our guys. Sometimes you just have to kind of be patient, even when it's hard to be patient."
When the Indians struck for two runs in the first inning on Tuesday, it snapped a 14-inning scoreless streak for their offense. Cleveland did show signs of life on Friday, when the club churned out 12 runs on 13 hits in a win over the White Sox. In the previous six games, which consisted of an 0-6 showing against the Giants and Angels, the Indians scored a combined 13 runs on 35 hits.
During that 12-5 win over Chicago, Danny Salazar was the beneficiary of all the support, earning a win after a solid effort. The hard-throwing right-hander will take the hill again on Wednesday against the Twins, who will counter with right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
In his last outing, Salazar allowed three earned runs on seven hits in five innings, in which he struck out six and walked three. The righty has posted a 3.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts against four walks in 12 innings over his last two turns, following an 0-3 showing with a 7.85 ERA in his first four starts of the season for Cleveland.
Nolasco -- inked to a four-year, $49 million deal by Minnesota over the winter -- tossed a complete game against the Orioles on Friday, but still took the loss. The right-hander gave up three runs on nine hits and finished with six strikeouts and one walk. It was a solid effort that followed a five-start stretch during which Nolasco had a 6.67 ERA with a .347 opponents' average.
Nolasco threw 110 pitches against the Orioles, but coming off a workload like that makes little difference for the veteran right-hander.
"I've been pitching long enough to where your arm's not going to feel good those next four days no matter how many pitches you throw," Nolasco said. "It's the mental thing. You get used to the soreness. When it comes to your game time, you will be ready to go."
Twins: Plouffe enjoys Progressive Field
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe has enjoyed the friendly confines of Progressive Field throughout the course of his career. Through 24 games played in Cleveland's home ballpark, Plouffe was sporting a .337 average with six home runs, nine doubles, 15 RBIs and a 1.034 OPS.
"Any time you get to face pitchers more often than others," Plouffe said, "you'll have a good chance to establish a better game plan against them. It has something to do with the ballpark. Certain guys see better at different parks, and this is one I see better than others."
Indians: Lonnie learning new trades
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, who headed into Tuesday's action with a .368 average through 20 games, has been taking some ground balls at first base for the past week or so. Chisenhall has also headed to the outfield at times to track down fly balls during batting practice.
"He's a pretty good athlete," Francona said. "I think it's a good idea. When you've got a left-handed hitter that can do multiple things, it can only enhance your career. There's no downside."
• No Twins batter has more than five career at-bats against Salazar, but the seven hitters who have faced the hard-throwing righty have combined to hit .296 (8-for-27) with a 1.199 OPS. Minnesota's Brian Dozier leads the way with a 4-for-5 showing with one homer off Salazar.
• Indians center fielder Michael Bourn, who left Saturday's game against the White Sox with left hamstring tightness, is scheduled to run the bases prior to Wednesday's game. Bourn might be cleared to resume playing within the next few days.
• Minnesota's Joe Mauer was out of the lineup for the second straight day on Tuesday, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said the first baseman was available as a pinch-hitter off the bench. Mauer left Sunday's game with back spasms and remains day to day.