CLEVELAND -- As a steady rain poured down from an increasingly darkening sky above Progressive Field, Indians starter David Huff walked off the mound and pounded his left hand into his glove in frustration.
It was an understandable reaction given how Huff's Sunday afternoon started for Cleveland. Fresh up from Triple-A Columbus, the lefty had thrown two perfect innings against the Twins before a storm rolled in and brought an abrupt end to his performance and, eventually, the game as well.
"I honestly felt like I had good stuff tonight," Huff said. "I felt good about tonight. To have the rain come in, it's just, I don't know. Oh, well."
A makeup date has yet to be announced.
The rainout added another wrinkle to the Tribe's tough schedule the rest of the way.
The Indians (60-57) are currently fighting to gain ground on the first-place Tigers in the race for the American League Central crown. Cleveland also has to contend with a tough slate the rest of the way. Due to Sunday's postponement, the Indians now face a stretch of 45 games in 44 days, following Monday's scheduled off-day.
It's a daunting road ahead for a team fighting to remain in the postseason hunt.
"You're in the thick of things," Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis said, "and even moreso when every game you're going to be going as hard as you can because it's a playoff run. But, you know what? That's what you signed up for.
"That's what we all wanted to happen. That's the position we'd like to be in, so we wouldn't want it any other way."
Including the day off on Monday, the Indians are only idle for three days through the remainder of the season.
Cleveland has a doubleheader against Seattle on Aug. 23, along with another makeup game with the Mariners penciled in for Sept. 19. On Sept. 20, Cleveland will host the White Sox in a doubleheader.
With the exception of the Sept. 19 meeting with the Mariners, the Indians' schedule included AL Central foes for 13 of the final 14 contests. If the Indians and Twins opt to make up Sunday's game during Minnesota's trip back to Cleveland (Sept. 23-25), the Tribe could face nine games in a period of seven days.
"The only thing that's worrisome," Indians manager Manny Acta said, "is the amount of games that we're piling up toward the end of the season. This makes nine games in seven days, because this game is probably going to take effect the last time that they come over here, and we already have a doubleheader scheduled with the White Sox."
The Indians and Tigers play nine more times this season, including a season-ending three-game set at Comerica Park from Sept. 26-28. Cleveland will also face the Tigers in a three-game weekend road series, beginning Friday, to wrap up an upcoming six-game swing through Chicago and Detroit.
With Detroit's 8-5 loss in Baltimore on Sunday, Cleveland moved within 2 1/2 games of first place in the Central. During the rain delay at Progressive Field, the Tigers' game was aired on the stadium scoreboard. The fans waiting out the storm erupted in loud cheers when the Orioles held on for the win.
Even with the rainout, Cleveland's rotation for the upcoming set in Chicago remains unchanged. Ubaldo Jimenez, Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson are scheduled to start the three games, respectively, beginning on Tuesday. Huff's next outing is currently scheduled for Saturday in Detroit.
At 1:06 p.m. ET on Sunday, when Huff threw the game's first pitch for the Indians, there was no rain falling over Progressive Field. The left-hander went on to log two innings, striking out four along the way. That included a second-inning strikeout against Twins slugger Jim Thome, who sits two home runs shy of 600 for his career.
The Indians struck for one run in the first inning against Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey. Ezequiel Carrera led off with a double and then crossed the plate on an RBI single to center field from Shin-Soo Choo. That gave Cleveland a quick 1-0 lead that was washed away with the rain, because the game fell short of the five frames required to make it official.
The game was stopped at 1:38 p.m. ET, when Huff had Minnesota's Delmon Young in a 1-1 count. The Indians and Twins attempted to wait out the storm, but finally made the postponement official at 4:32 p.m. ET after another system began to envelope the area.
Huff was officially promoted from Triple-A shortly before the start of Sunday's game. The Indians optioned outfielder Shelley Duncan to Columbus to clear room on the roster for Huff, who was 1-1 with a 0.51 ERA in three prior outings this year. Huff was also the planned starter for Cleveland on July 23, when the Tribe and White Sox were rained out.
"We've been very encouraged with the way he's been throwing the ball," Acta said. "He showed it today again with how aggressive he is with his delivery. And his velocity, he was throwing fastballs by guys, and he has a much-improved breaking ball. It would've been nice to see him continue to pitch."
Left fielder Michael Brantley (sore right wrist) and Kipnis (sore right side) were both out of the starting lineup for Sunday's game. It marked the seventh time in the past 11 games that Brantley has been sidelined with his injury. For Kipnis, it was the second game in a row he missed.
Cleveland is hopeful that both Brantley and Kipnis will be recovered in time for Tuesday's road game against the White Sox. Brantley appears to be the more likely of the two to potentially face a stint on the 15-day disabled list. If such a move were required, the Indians could recall Duncan.
Typically, a player is required to spend a minimum of 10 days in the Minor Leagues after being sent down, though that rule can be exempted in the case of an injury. Duncan serves as a part-time outfielder and first baseman and is especially useful for the Indians against left-handed pitching.
"We hope that by Tuesday," Acta said, "with all the rest that we have given [Brantley and Kipnis], including today and the day off [Monday], that they should be ready to go. If not, then we're going to have to make a decision."