Thursday equals travel day in the world of MLB, so the evening slate is typically lighter than normal. That’s the situation at hand tonight with just eight games on the docket and zero contests scheduled for this afternoon.
Despite the scarcity of games, there are a number of appealing matchups to dig into. One that has really caught our eye is a meeting between the top two teams in the American League Central division. The Cleveland Indians will be spending the weekend in Minnesota for a three-game set with the Twins.
The visitors enter tonight’s tilt after taking two of three at home over the Texas Rangers to begin the week. They’re a solid 4-1 over the last five games. The hosts were also at home to start the week, but it didn’t go so well. They dropped two of three to the Atlanta Braves and check-in at 3-2 over their last five.
It should be a fascinating series overall, and things get underway with a great pitching matchup tonight. Let’s take a look at this contest in full detail, starting with what the oddsmakers have to say.
Cleveland Indians vs. Minnesota Twins, 8:10 PM EST, FSN
Indians vs. Twins Pick:
The Twins hold a two-game lead over the Indians in the division as this series begins. Both squads are well ahead of the other three teams in the division. The closest team to them is the Chicago White Sox, a squad which is a whopping 18.5 games back of 1st place Minnesota.
Cleveland has a mark of 6-4 over its last 10 ball games. The club has been good at home with a record of 38-24, and decent on the road at 30-22 for the year. The offense for the Indians leaves something to be desired, but the team still has a decent run differential of +79 on the season.
Minnesota is a solid 7-3 over the last 10 games, but they have dropped their last two in a row. The club is 35-23 on the home field and 35-21 in road tilts on the year. The Twins have one of the top offenses in all of MLB. The club is among the league leaders in run differential at +134 thus far.
The Indians began the week with a 1-0 home loss to the Rangers. The club responded with a 2-0 shutout victory of their own in game two. In yesterday’s finale, the team picked up a 5-1 win thanks to a committee effort from the pitching staff.
Jose Ramirez was among the heroes with a dong in the 2nd inning and two runs scored on the night. Cleveland is on the road for this set before returning back home. They just wrapped up a nine-game homestand for which they went 6-3, including victories in five of the last six.
The Twins opened up the series with the Braves with a 5-3 victory on Monday. Things went downhill quickly from that point. Atlanta won the final two games of the set by a combined score of 23-14. In the final game on Wednesday, the Braves smacked four homers in an 11-7 win.
Atlanta was up 7-0 in the 6th inning before the Minnesota bats came alive. It was too little too late, and the visitors would add on another four runs of their own from that point. Minnesota continues a 10-game homestand with this series. They’re 4-2 thus far, dropping their last two games.
The Twins have the clear overall advantage at the plate and the hotter bats recently. Francisco Lindor is batting .301 to lead the way for Cleveland. Carlos Santana is the team leader with 24 homers and 64 RBIs. Nelson Cruz is tops on the Twins with a batting average of .296 and 32 HRs. Max Kepler leads the team with 77 RBIs.
Clevinger has started 10 games thus far and has been quite solid with wins in five of his last six starts. Last time out, he gave up one earned run over 6.1 innings in a victory over the Los Angeles Angels. Gibson has 23 appearances under his belt and wins in three of his last four outings. For his last game, he allowed two earned runs over 6.2 innings to get the victory over the Kansas City Royals.
It’s no contest in this regard, as the Indians have one of the best bullpens in all of MLB. The Twins bullpen isn’t awful, but it’s still a distinct advantage. Clevinger has pitched six innings or more for his last four in a row and in five of his last six games. Gibson has lasted five innings or more for each of his last four outings.
Through nine meetings this season, the Twins hold a 5-4 advantage. Most recently, Minnesota took three of four in Cleveland, with the Indians picking up the victory in the finale to avoid the sweep. The Twins won the first three games of that series by a combined margin of 16-9.
Cleveland has a golden opportunity to make up some ground as this series kicks off. They’ve been playing well of late, and they’ll be sending a hot Clevinger to the mound to boot. Minnesota should snap its two-game skid over the course of the series, but we don’t see it happening tonight. We’re rolling with the Indians in a game which the oddsmakers have deemed a veritable toss-up.