The second half of the Major League season begins for two American League Central rivals when the Minnesota Twins begin a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians Friday night. Minnesota has led the division for much of the season, but its lead is down to just 5.5 games over the second-place Indians, who won six straight prior to the All-Star break.
The Twins slipped a bit before the All-Star break, dropping six of their final 10 games, which allowed Cleveland to creep within striking distance of the lead. The two teams have split their first six meetings this season, with the home team taking two out of three in each series.
The moneyline for this contest has the Minnesota Twins +120 and the Cleveland Indians -130. The over/under for the game has been set at 9.
Building On A Solid Start
Minnesota will turn to Kyle Gibson to start the series on the mound. The right-hander has been solid for the team this season, going 8-4 with a 4.09 ERA. Gibson hasn’t recorded a decision in his last three appearances, though two of them were only one inning — one in his first career relief appearance in an 18-inning marathon against Tampa Bay and one in Sunday’s game against Texas, when he started on short rest then gave way to a bullpen game.
The Twins are hoping the All-Star break gave their big bats some needed rest and they come back ready to hit some balls out of the park again. Minnesota leads all of baseball with 166 home runs as a team, and it’s been because of the depth of the team’s lineup. Max Kepler’s 21 home runs lead the team, but 10 players have contributed at least 10 home runs to the total.
Hoping To Stay Hot
Even though Cleveland was the host city for the All-Star Game, the Indians likely would have preferred if the season had continued without the break, considering how hot they were playing prior to the four days off. Mike Clevinger, who has struggled with injuries for much of this season, will take the mound for the Indians for just his sixth start in 2019. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.44 ERA and is just one start removed from a disastrous 1 2/3-inning outing against Baltimore in which he gave up seven runs on five hits and three walks.
The Indians have been more than happy to welcome Carlos Santana back this season after he spent last season with Philadelphia. Santana has been the leader of the Cleveland offense this season, pacing the team in batting average (.297), home runs (19), RBI (52), hits (93) and runs (60). Francisco Lindor has also been a solid contributor, with a .296 batting average to go with 14 home runs, 32 RBI and 45 runs scored.
Twins Take Opener
Minnesota knows it needs to get some wins against the Indians because Cleveland is in the middle of a very nice part of its schedule. The Indians played their last 14 games before the All-Star break against teams with sub-.500 records, and after this series, they’ll play their next 14 games against sub-.500 teams. The Twins have the better pitcher and the better team in this one. I’m taking Minnesota +120 to get the win.