CLEVELAND -- Sunday's rubber match at Progressive Field is Minnesota's 27th ballgame in a span of 27 days.
During the demanding stretch, which began on July 30, the Twins had an off-day on Aug. 8 but a doubleheader the following day. They entered Sunday's game with a 12-14 record over their previous 26 games.
"Kind of inconsistent" is how manager Ron Gardenhire described his team's performance during the last month or so.
"We've played some better baseball, but still our record has been inconsistent," said Gardenhire. "It seems like we'd run off [stretches] where [we played] four or five really good ballgames. [We] might lose one or two of them. Then, all of a sudden, we'd go flat, it looks like.
"And I don't know if that's because we're in such a grind. Right now, when you're playing this many games in a row and it's August, guys are a little worn out. But every team is in the same boat. Every team is going through the same thing and battling."
Gardenhire's club has won three of its past five games. But at 57-71, the Twins occupy fourth place in the American League Central, and headed into Sunday 18 1/2 games behind division-leading Detroit and 15 games out of the second Wild Card position. Barring something extraordinary, the Twins will finish below .500 for the fourth year in a row.
"Overall, the whole year, we've been inconsistent," Gardenhire said, "and we've been too streaky, and we still do those things."
Mauer getting plenty of rest back home
CLEVELAND -- Twins catcher Joe Mauer is a guy who likes to sleep a lot, according to the club's assistant general manager, Rob Antony.
That's good, considering that Mauer has been instructed to take it easy for a few days. Mauer, who went on the seven-day disabled list on Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms, is at his home in Minnesota, and the Twins expect to see him when they return to Target Field during the upcoming week.
"He's had his moments where he hasn't felt great, and other times where he's felt fine," Antony said. "Basically, we just told him to rest and we'll talk about it and see how he's doing on Tuesday."
That's when Minnesota opens a three-game series with Kansas City at Target Field, following an off-day on Monday. The Twins do not expect Mauer to return to their lineup during that brief homestand. After the Royals series, the club will be back on the road for meetings with the Rangers and Astros.
Through 113 games, Mauer has 11 home runs and 47 RBIs, with a slash line of .324/.404/.476.
"I don't think he's going out or doing much of anything," Antony said. "As much as anything, we just want him to lay low. The doctors said the best thing for those things is rest, so that's what he's doing."
Twins' brain trust weighing September callups
CLEVELAND -- In one week, the Twins will be playing September baseball. That means the organization must begin thinking about how it will configure its expanded roster.
Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan is currently in Rochester to get a better grasp on his Triple-A players. He, assistant general manager Rob Antony and Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire will meet when the club returns to Minnesota next week to discuss possibilities for September callups.
"What do we need, No. 1, for September?" Antony said, listing the questions that will guide the Twins' decisions. "What do we want to see? What are our objectives? Then, we'll figure out who we want to bring up."
Starting pitching is probably Minnesota's most pressing concern at this point in the season. The team optioned Kyle Gibson to Rochester on Tuesday, after the right-hander went 2-4 with a 6.53 ERA in 10 outings. Gibson's replacement in the rotation, Liam Hendriks, pitched on Saturday and gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"Terry is going to have a time here when he gets back from Rochester," Gardenhire said. "That's why he went there, to see who we're going to bring in, pitching-wise. That will probably tell us a little bit more, where we need to go."
The team is monitoring Mike Pelfrey's innings, and is wary of the right biceps tendinitis that has bothered Samuel Deduno. Gardenhire likes the idea of a six-man rotation, though he admitted it's difficult enough to find five capable starters.
With the active roster eligible to expand to 40 players on Sept. 1, the Twins could very well rely on a pitcher currently in the Minors to make a start down the stretch. Doing that, however, comes with many things to consider.
"You don't want to leave yourself short here, and you don't want to blow up a team that's going or has a chance to be in the playoffs," Antony said, referring to Rochester, which entered Sunday leading the Wild Card race in the International League. "It's kind of that fine line. OK, if we bring this player, are they going to play, or are they just going to be on the bench and available if we need them? ... You don't want to have too many guys.
"You factor all those things in, then maybe it's better to leave them there and let them play, experience a playoff race and everything else -- because you're trying to teach guys how to win, too. It's all part of the development process. We'll weigh all those things."
• Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak allowed one hit in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief on Saturday. The team doesn't view him as a starter, though Gardenhire did not rule out the idea of using him from the first inning on.
"If we need him to start, we'll put him in there," said Gardenhire. "He ate up some innings last night for us again. He threw really well. ... It's not like we talk about him being a starter. He's in our bullpen. But if we need him to start, we wouldn't be afraid to [use him] at all."
In 38 appearances this season, Swarzak is 1-2 with a 2.78 ERA. He has made 28 starts in his career.
• Minnesota named Danny Santana, a shortstop at Double-A New Britain, as its Minor League Player of the Week. Santana hit .348 (8-for-23) across seven games for the Rock Cats, with one home run, five RBIs, a double, two triples, two stolen bases and four runs scored.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.