I expected to see Pittsburgh Pirates starter Joe Musgrove get roughed up last night by the St. Louis Cardinals. Musgrove was 0-4 with an ERA of 10.00 in four starts this season against St. Louis, and I figured he would struggle again last night. So, when I saw that the Cards were only -129 road favorites, it felt like a steal, and I jumped all over it.
But unfortunately, Musgrove didn’t get roughed up last night, as he was scratched just before the start of the game with foot pain. One practice that I always follow, and you should too, is that I list my starting pitchers when I make my bets. The dynamic of a game can change a lot when one of the starters change last minute. You never want to be in a spot like last night where you were betting to fade a specific starter, and he doesn’t even pitch.
So, the value spot dried up for us as we got a refund on our bet. I did consider making another bet on the Cardinals, but with the pitching change, the line moved nearly fifty points, and the bet lost all of its value. And I suppose that was a good thing as the Pirates found a way to come from behind and steal the game anyway, so in the end, it all worked out well for us. For today’s game, we will head to Minnesota, where the Twins host the Indians.
The Cleveland Indians are looking to make it two straight wins over their division rivals, the Minnesota Twins tonight in game two of a three-game set. Cleveland stole game one last night in extra innings as they exploded for four runs in the top of the eleventh inning to take the series lead. With the win, the Indians cut the Twins lead in the AL Central to just five and a half games. The Indians have been treading water as of late as they are 5-5 in their last ten games and must win this series if they want any real shot at the division title.
For the Twins, last night was a rare slip up as they had won ten out of their previous twelve games before losing the opener. The Twins bats have cooled down just a bit here in September. The Twins have led the majors in scoring and home runs all season long, setting an all-time record for most home runs in a season, but in September, their bats have struggled as they are last in the big leagues in home runs so far this month. And those struggles at the dish could continue tonight as they are expected to play without Nelson Cruz and Jake Cave who both are banged up.
Starting for the Twins is Jake Odorizzi (14-6 3.61 ERA), and for the Indians it is Aaron Civale (3-3 1.94 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. The Twins are -149 home favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM PST from Target Field in Minnesota.
The Cleveland Indians have been forced to play without their ace Corey Kluber basically all season long. They missed Carlos Carasco for a long stretch as well. And Trevor Bauer was a team cancer that was traded away at the trade deadline. So, how have they been able to survive with all that firepower missing on the mound? Well, it has been a next man up mentality for the Indians this year, and Aaron Civale has been that man.
Civale joined this Indians rotation in August and has been great ever since. The guy’s ERA is an elite 1.94 in seven starts. And he has faced some strong hitting teams in his short time in the big leagues as he has outings against the Yankees, Mets, and Twins. He has yet to give up more than two earned runs in any of those seven starts and has allowed just one home run in forty-one and a third innings pitched. Civale has pitched into the sixth inning or deeper in all but one of his starts. Against the Twins on August 11th, Civale threw six innings of one-run ball and picked up the win for his efforts.
Jake Odorizzi has been mostly great all season long for the Twins. He has had the occasional blowup start, like on July 24th when the Yankees rocked him for nine runs. But besides that, he has been solid. In August he had a 2.86 ERA in five starts. That included throwing five and two-thirds of shutout baseball against the Cleveland Indians. In fact, he has been great against Cleveland all year long as he is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in three starts against the Tribe this season.
This is a fun matchup with a lot on the line. If the Twins win the next two games, they will have a seven and a half-game lead over Cleveland, which would be all but insurmountable with just a couple of weeks left of the season. If the Indians find a way to sweep this series, they will have cut the Twins lead to just three and a half games, a total that could be made up in just one weekend. There should be a playoff-type atmosphere tonight in Minnesota.
And how does playoff baseball tend to look? Lower scoring. In a game that matters as much as this one does, both teams will be making each other fight for every hit and run. And when you look at both of these starters, they have been great against each other. I expect a lower scoring and tightly contested game, similar to last night’s game that hit extra innings tied at just two runs apiece.
If I had to make a play on a side, I would lean towards Cleveland, as they seem to be undervalued some. And in a game that should be very competitive, taking the side getting the dog money is almost always the right play. But I just can’t bring myself to bet against these Twins right now, they are just playing too well. So, I will jump on the under nine and a half runs and expect a 4-3 type of game. Give me the under nine and a half runs tonight in game two from Minnesota!