The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians continue their weekend series in Cleveland on Saturday. The Twins drew first blood and increased their division lead with a 5-3 win in the opener on Friday night.
Still On Top
Following the All-Star break, the Twins were 56-33 and in first place in the AL Central, just above the Indians in the division. This series will be very important going into the second half of the season as the Cleveland also currently holds a Wild Card spot if the playoffs ended today. Before the break, the Twins were 4-6 over their last 10, losing their last game to the Rangers at home. This series will be played on the road, where Minnesota was an impressive 28-18 in the first half of the season.
Getting the start for the Twins in the second game of this series will be right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Jake has been impressive this year with a 10-4 record, a 3.15 ERA and 96 strikeouts. The Twins will be activating Odorizzi off of the 10-day IL after a blistered finger has kept him out since the 2nd of July. Jake currently has the most wins of any pitcher on the Twins.
The batting leaders for Minnesota have come from all spots in the lineup. Leftfielder Eddie Rosario leads the team in runs batted in with 60. Across the diamond in right field, 26-year-old Max Kepler leads the team in home runs with 21. Finally, at shortstop Jorge Polanco’s .312 batting average is also a team high. When a team gets this kind of production from so many places, they become very hard to stop for a full nine innings.
Comfortable At Home
Prior to the All-Star break, the Indians were 50-38 in the first half of the year and currently sit in second place, just behind the Twins in the AL Central. The Indians will get to start their second half of the season with a couple of advantages. One, they get to start out at home in Cleveland, where they are 25-18 this season, and two, they get to go face to face with the team ahead of them in the division, giving them a great opportunity to close the gap if they can capitalize.
Trevor Bauer will get the start in this game for the Indians. Bauer is 8-6 so far this season with a 3.61 ERA, and he currently sits in fifth place in the league with his 149 strikeouts. In his last start, Bauer got a win after giving up just one run over seven innings.
The Indians have been led in the batter’s box by their first baseman Carlos Santana. Santana has 19 home runs, 52 runs batted in and a .297 batting average, all of which lead the Indians. In their last game before the All-Star break, Santana went 2-for-4 with a home run in a 4-0 win against the Royals, Santana shows no signs of slowing down.
What to expect
These are two very good baseball teams sitting at the top of a division. Each game is very important, and both teams will have a good pitcher on the mound. I would definitely expect a low scoring game where the Twins are able to edge one out and take the win.