The Cleveland Indians have some catching up to do in the American League Central, and a series against the team they’re trying to reel in is a good way to start the second-half. If they actually take advantage and win, that is. The Twins were winners in the opener on Friday night by a score of 5-3. It caused a 6.5-game lead for the Twins in the AL Central. The follow up game provided much of the same, with the Twins winning and setting the Indians back a little more.
While this was an opportunity for the Indians to pull up closer to the Twins, this was also a chance for the Indians to slip further behind. The Tribe went on a six-game winning streak before the All-Star break. They did what they had to do to get back in the fold.
One of the worst things that can happen to a hot team is time away from the diamond, though. It has the potential to kill momentum, and at least for a couple of games, they fell on the wrong track. Cleveland are going to need to take as many wins off Minnesota as they can get in the second-half. The Twins were running on a treadmill, with a record of 4-5 running up to the break. For some teams, the break comes at the perfect moment.
The highlight of the All-Star Game in Cleveland was Shane Bieber. Bieber earned MVP honors in front of the home crowd. With Corey Kluber out with a broke arm for much of the first-half, Bieber has asserted himself quite well in the Indians’ rotation.
The Tribe needed somebody else to step up in his absence, and Bieber answered the call. Along with Kluber, Carlos Carrasco has been ruled out indefinitely after being diagnosed with leukemia. One of the best projected rotations going into 2019 has clearly had to deal with adversity. Bieber gets the call in this one, while Jose Berrios will counter for the Twins on Sunday. Head below for our free Twins vs. Indians pick.
Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians Pick:
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The Twins’ Jose Berrios has settled into his position as ace of the club pretty well. He leads the pitching staff with an ERA of 3.00, with Jake Odorizzi just behind with a 3.06 ERA. That’s been one of the differences between this season and last. Of course, the offense should be getting a lot of credit as well. Down the stretch and into the postseason, their pitching must take the forefront and lead the way, though. Berrios has been lights out against the Indians in his career. In 109 at-bats, Cleveland are hitting just .193 with 2 long balls.
He hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs in a start since May 18th against the Mariners. That makes for eight straight outings without allowing more than 3 runs. The Twins have been getting plenty of consistency out of Berrios this season, improving on his ERA of 3.84 from last year. Cleveland have been cold since returning from the break, scoring 3 runs Friday night and just 2 last night. We should expect to see Berrios with another strong appearance on Sunday.
Bieber has been on fire, though, and that doesn’t even include the All-Star appearance. He has posted an ERA of 1.69 with a 0.70 WHIP and .205 OBA. The way Bieber performed leading up to the All-Star break got himself a spot in the All-Star Game. He has steadily improved from earlier in the season and found his stride by mid-June.
Berrios hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in a start since June 15th, which is five straight games without allowing more than a couple of runs. His offense has been slow to get going again in the second-half, so he might have to be at the top of his game in this one. Berrios and Bieber are likely going to be the story of this one, with another lower scoring game on tap. The UNDER looks like a solid bet in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon.