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With at least a split of their four-game series with the Cleveland Indians already guaranteed, the Minnesota Twins will use right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard as an opener in Sunday’s series finale in Minneapolis.

Clippard (0-0, 2.25 ERA), who gave up a run in an inning of relief in Minnesota’s 4-1 victory on Friday night, takes the spot that was originally assigned to Homer Bailey.

“We’re going to push Homer back one day, and Homer is going to pitch against Pittsburgh (on Monday night),” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said following Saturday night’s 3-0 win over the Indians.

Bailey started the homestand on Tuesday night by picking up the win in a 6-3 victory over St. Louis, allowing four hits, including a two-run homer by Tyler O’Neill, and two walks while striking out four.

“This is a recovery thing,” Baldelli said. “This is with everything going on with our schedule, with everything going on with playing a lot of games coming up in not a ton of days. I would call it recovery related and just making sure our guys are equipped to go forward and continue to pitch well and make their starts and being ready to go.”

Baldelli was asked what pitcher might follow Clippard in the “bulk” role.

“Who follows, we’re going to wait on that,” Baldelli said. “It’s going to depend on what happens in the game.”

Clippard is 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 12 career appearances against Cleveland and will be making his first career start against the Indians. Right-hander Aaron Civale (1-0, 3.00), who is 0-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two career starts against the Twins — both at Target Field — will try to help the Indians garner a split of the series.

Cleveland was expected to have the edge in starting pitching in the series, especially after Shane Bieber held the Twins to just three singles over eight innings while striking out 13 in a 2-0 victory in Thursday night’s opener. But Minnesota’s starters have combined to allow just two earned runs in 16 innings (1.13 ERA) in the first three games, allowing only seven hits while striking out 16. The Indians are batting .154 (14-for-91) overall in the series.

“Our starters have carried us in a big, big way,” Baldelli said.

Kenta Maeda, making his Target Field debut with the Twins after being acquired in a trade with the Dodgers in February, was especially impressive Saturday night, holding Cleveland to just a scratch infield single by Bradley Zimmer over six innings. He walked one and struck out six.

“He pitched a really good ballgame,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “He kept us off balance.”

“Kenta was spectacular tonight from the very beginning,” Baldelli said. “He had tremendous command and execution of his off-speed pitches. … I don’t know how anyone could pitch much better. He was just awesome.”

All three runs for the Twins came on solo homers: two by Miguel Sano and another by Eddie Rosario. Minnesota, which set a major league record with 307 home runs last season, has hit 15 in eight games this season, tied for tops in the majors.

–Field Level Media