CLEVELAND — Cleveland and Minnesota will play a four-game series at the Metrodome, beginning tonight at 8:10, though the Twins considered canceling the set in light of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
The Twins cancelled their scheduled game with Kansas City on Thursday to avoid an influx of traffic, as rescue crews searched the site of the bridge, which is located just blocks from the Metrodome.
The Twins considered a number of alternatives to playing the four-game set with the Indians as scheduled, including postponing tonight’s game and playing a doubleheader Saturday. But according to a Cleveland official, the series will go on as planned.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” said Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner of playing the series in Minnesota in the wake of the accident. “It’s just a terrible tragedy. It’s something you hate to see.”
“I would imagine the city’s pretty shocked and pretty somber,” said Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake, who spent two-plus years in the Twins organization before signing a free-agent contract with the Indians in 2002. “I don’t know how it’s going to affect the crowd or the players.”
The Twins played Wednesday night, approximately an hour after the bridge collapsed, not wanting to send some 25,000 fans in attendance into the streets, while rescue crews were still transporting victims from the site.
Minnesota lost to the Royals 5-3 in 10 innings.
“I don’t think a lot of us really wanted to play,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters after the game. “But it was the right thing to do to make sure they could do their jobs out there and keep the fans in here.”
Had the series been canceled, the Indians would have been faced with another schedule dilemma. Cleveland is still making up games from its snowed-out home opener against the Mariners.
Indians manager Eric Wedge didn’t sound as though Cliff Lee would be returning to Cleveland’s rotation any time soon after Lee produced a positive performance in his first start for Triple-A Buffalo.
“The reports were good, but he still has a lot of work to do,” Wedge said.
Stick it to ya
Rangers infielder Ramon Vazquez is doing his best to prove the Indians wrong for letting him go.
Cleveland’s utility man last year, which the team chose over Brandon Phillips, is hitting .385 (10-for-26) with three doubles against the Indians this year, after collecting all of 14 total hits in 2006. His average against the rest of the American League is .218.
Vazquez went 0-for-3 on Thursday, but still had a productive series against his old club, going 5-for-12 with two runs and a double.
C.C. Sabathia (13-6, 3.58 ERA) opens the set against Minnesota, opposing Johan Santana (11-8, 2.92).
Aaron Laffey (major league debut) and Fausto Carmona (13-5, 3.27) are the scheduled starters Saturday (3:55) and Sunday (2:10), while the Twins counter with right-handers Matt Garza (1-2, 1.37) and Scott Baker (5-4, 4.88).
Paul Byrd (9-4, 4.33) will go for Cleveland in the series finale Monday (8:10). Minnesota will start righty Carlos Silva (9-11, 4.61).
Jeremy Sowers pitched well Wednesday but did not figure in the decision in Buffalo’s 3-2 victory over Pawtucket in 10 innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, while striking out three through 52/3 innings. Sowers is 1-4 with a 4.17 ERA in nine starts for the Bisons since being demoted from the majors.
• Ryan Goleski hit his eighth homer and drove in three runs in a 3-for-5 performance for Double-A Akron, which beat Connecticut
6-3 on Wednesday. Originally drafted by Cleveland in the 23rd round in 2003, Goleski was a Rule V loss to the Devil Rays, who traded him to Oakland. When the A’s did not place Goleski on their 25-man roster, the outfielder was returned to the Indians.
Travis Hafner was out of the lineup Thursday, with Grady Sizemore filling the DH role and Kenny Lofton playing his first game in center field since arriving in a trade with the Rangers.
• Sizemore celebrated his 25th birthday Thursday.
• The Indians signed three more picks from this year’s draft — RHP Dallas Cawiezell (40th round), INF Walter Diaz (48th round) and infielder Matt Willard (49th round). Cleveland has signed 20 of its 40 selections.