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Red-hot Santana hopes to deliver a series win for Tribe in Minnesota

Jul 23, 2014 - 1:27 PM ( - If Carlos Santana returns to 2013 form, the Cleveland Indians become a significantly more dangerous participant in the American League's Central Division.

He'll try to build on a breakout effort when the Indians return to Target Field on Wednesday afternoon to close out a three-game series with the host Minnesota Twins.

Santana hit 20 home runs, drove in 74 runs and established a career-best .268 batting average in 2013, but he's scuffled throughout 2014 and was stuck at just .136 after the season's first month. He's been up and down since then, hitting .301 in a 31-game stretch before tumbling back to .177 over the subsequent 22.

Tuesday night was a sign of potentially good things, however, as he cracked four hits -- including three for extra bases -- in the Indians' 8-2 win.

"When he's going good, it makes us a whole different lineup," manager Terry Francona said.

The win continued a recently torrid stretch in which the Indians are 12-6 for July and have won or tied five straight series since losing two of three games at Seattle in late June.

In his last seven games in Minnesota, Santana is batting .355 with three home runs.

He'll face Minnesota's Anthony Swarzak on Wednesday in the right-hander's first start since October 2012.

Kyle Gibson had been scheduled for the turn, but he complained of tightness in his back after a bullpen session and was scratched.

Swarzak has posted a 7.71 earned run average in his last four relief appearances and he's just 1-5 with a 7.34 ERA in 16 meetings with the Indians -- including five runs and nine hits allowed in 1 1/3 innings this season.

Cleveland sends out right-hander Trevor Bauer, who'll start for the first time against the Twins while trying to extend a four-start unbeaten streak that's seen him go 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA.

He's been uneven on the road, however, winning just once in six starts with a 5.29 ERA. He secured the win on Friday in Detroit after allowing three runs in six innings of a 9-3 triumph.

The Twins have scored just 12 runs in their last five games.

"I don't think you can point to anything," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "It's just basically not hitting."

On Tuesday, Santana's outburst paved the way as Cleveland topped Minnesota, 8-2.

Chris Dickerson and David Murphy also added two RBI apiece for the Indians, who had dropped two in a row including Monday's opener but have won five of seven overall.

Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles also knocked in runs for Cleveland.

Recalled from Triple-A prior to the contest, Danny Salazar (2-4) scattered six hits and one run while striking out six against three walks over five-plus innings.

"That was more of the stuff that we had come to appreciate last year," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "If he is going to pitch like that and move forward with it, what a shot in the arm for us."

Yohan Pino (1-3) surrendered four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 frames for the Twins, who have dropped four of their last five.

Brian Dozier homered and Sam Fuld was responsible for Minnesota's other run.

"We're getting the guys on base we can't come through with a two-out hit," Dozier said. "Myself included. To be a good offensive team you have to have the total package."