Two AL Central foes have split their series so far heading into the June 26tth Indians at Twins matchup. Cleveland was able to take the first of a four game set 4-1 on Thursday, but Minnesota outlast the Tribe 8-7 on Friday night.
Oddsmakers have Minnesota as a somewhat surprising -161 favorite for this contest. The Twins have won six of their last eight games, but are still 10 GB from Cleveland in the division. Minnesota is still just 16-23 at Target Field on the season, but did take two of three from the Indians on the road a month ago. Cleveland is a +148 underdog in this one.
Cleveland Turns to Rookie
Are the Indians such significant underdogs on Saturday because rookie Sam Hentges is making just his sixth career start? The left-hander has switched back-and-forth between starter and reliever this season, but looked solid in his return to starter last time out, tossing 5.0 IP of shutout ball in a 2-1 win over the Pirates.
Hentges (1-1, 6.40 ERA) should be amped up as he is playing against his childhood team growing up in nearby Shoreview, MN. Hentges made a relief appearance against the Twins earlier this season, giving up 5 hits and two solo HRs over 3.0 IP. Minnesota has dropped four straight home games against left-handers though, and are 7-17 in their last 24 vs. a southpaw starter.
Cleveland goes up against Kenta Maeda (3-2, 4.85 ERA) in the June 26th Indians at Twins tilt. The Indians have won in both of Maeda’s starts vs. the team this season (7-4, 5-3) despite posting just a .225 combined average against the Twins pitcher. Cesar Hernandez does have 2 HR and 4 doubles in 29 career appearances vs. Maeda.
Twins Have Been Battling
Minnesota has won 6 of their last 8 games, and are 5-2 in their last 7 as a favorite. The Twins are just 3-7 in their last 10 home games though, and have dropped four of their last five as a home favorite. Minnesota have split their 8 head to head games so far this season.
The Twins were able to get to Hentges a bit in their only appearance against him this season. Byron Buxton was 5-5 in what ended up being a 10-2 Twins win powered by two Mitch Garver HRs. Both of those players are sidelined for Saturday’s matchup though. It’s been Luis Arraez powering the team lately as he is 9 for his last 20 (.450) including 3-4 with 3 RBI in Friday night’s win.
One big question ahead of taking the huge Minnesota price tag on Saturday is if Maeda is truly back to form. He spent three weeks on the injured list, but has looked solid in his last two since returning. Maeda held Seattle to 1 ER and Texas to 2 ER in his last two. Maeda had allowed 3 ER in five of six starts prior to being sidelined.
Free June 26th Indians at Twins Pick
Minnesota has been playing well lately, but have had their share of struggles at home. Cleveland lost on Friday night, but still put up 7 runs. Hentges will be amped up pitching in a place he lived 15 miles from growing up.
Indians 6 – Twins 4
Free Pick: Indians +148