MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Cole DeVries can see the opportunity ahead of him with several spots in the Minnesota Twins’ rotation likely open for 2013.
He’s trying not to look too far ahead, though, knowing his audition is ongoing.
DeVries pitched six scoreless innings to win his third straight start and Minnesota beat the Cleveland Indians 3-0 on Saturday night.
DeVries (5-5) gave up four hits and walked one. A trio of relievers combined for three hitless innings, with Glen Perkins working the ninth for his 11th save in 14 chances.
“I think it’s a little premature to be saying that I deserve one of those spots, but I know that’s the case at hand,” DeVries said. “Each time I go out, it’s no different. I try to pitch as well as I can every time, but I’m also trying to pitch to secure one of those spots for next year.”
Joe Mauer had an RBI single and Josh Willingham added a sacrifice fly in a two-run third inning for the Twins, who had lost four of their past five games.
Ben Revere had two hits and two stolen bases for Minnesota, which is trying to avoid ending consecutive seasons in the AL Central basement and now trails Cleveland — which led the division at one point in June — by just two games.
Indians starter Zach McAllister (5-7) made it through only three innings in losing his third straight decision. He allowed two runs on two hits and three walks.
“They fouled a lot of pitches off him,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “It’s September, it’s a kid that we care about and value a lot, I couldn’t let him go any further after 87 pitches in three innings of work.”
DeVries is pitching his way into consideration for one of the rotation spots heading into next spring. The rookie right-hander has allowed just four earned runs over his last four starts, spanning 23 1-3 innings.
“It seems like when he gets himself into a little bit of a hole, he’ll just come back and pound the strike zone and go right at them and make them swing it rather than walking them, and that’s a good thing,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s been going along pretty good, using all of his pitches, his breaking ball, the whole package.”
Minnesota’s rotation has been completely turned over from the beginning of the season with the patchwork beginning almost as soon as the team broke from spring training. DeVries has been one of the few surprise additions. He wasn’t even on the team’s 40-man roster at the beginning of the season, but he made his major league debut May 24.
After three inconsistent outings DeVries was sent back to Triple-A Rochester, but he has been a rotation mainstay since July 8 and could be starting to find his way.
He allowed a hit and a walk to the first two batters and pitched around some trouble in the first two innings before retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced. He left the game after six innings with some soreness stemming from a comebacker off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera that hit him in the ribs. DeVries made the catch to end the third.
“I think I’ve felt really comfortable up here for a little while, but things are starting to meld together,” DeVries said. “Things are kind of starting to go my way a little bit at times. I’m feeling pretty good.”
McAllister and the Indians have been going the other way. The Indians led the division for much of the first two months of the season and were still in the top spot as late as June 23, but they are 15-39 since the All-Star break.
The Indians have scored the second-fewest runs in the AL and have put up one run or less eight times in the past 19 games. On Saturday, they managed one baserunner over the final seven innings. Shin-Soo Choo, who had two hits, led off the sixth with a single and was erased on a double play.
“We struggled with their kid once he started throwing breaking balls for strikes,” Acta said. “We hit a lot of fly balls on the wrong day with the wind blowing in. We couldn’t string any offense together. I think our best chance was in the very first inning when we had first and second, no outs and we didn’t do anything.”
Over his first 15 starts, McAllister had a 3.50 ERA and had given Cleveland a chance despite the poor offense. But he’s now allowed 14 earned runs in his last 12 1-3 innings.
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