The Minnesota Twins and hot Cleveland Indians are fighting for first place in the AL Central. The Twins regained the top spot and have an easy schedule for the last quarter of the season with 26 of their final 41 games against losing teams.
After a torrid start, Rocco Baldelli’s Twins struggled since the All-Star Break. At one point the Twins were on pace for a 100-plus wins, but now they’d be happy to secure 90victories.
Baldelli and the Twins cannot wait until Nelson Cruz returns to the lineup. Cruz will not require surgery on his wrist and the Twins will need his big bat if they hope to fend off the Twins.
If the Cleveland Indians overtake the Twins for first place in the AL Central, then the Twins will most likely face Baldelli’s old squad, the Tampa Bay Rays, in the AL Wild Card.
AL CENTRAL STANDINGS
Minnesota Twins 73-48
Cleveland Indians 73-49
Chicago White Sox 54-66
Kansas City Royals 43-78
Detroit Tigers 36-82
The AL Central is top heavy with two teams. At the start of the season, it looked like the Twins were running away with the division title.
After an ugly 29-30 start, Terry Francona corrected the ship in Cleveland. They were over 16 games out of first place and stormed back into contention.
After a difficult series against the Indians last weekend, Twins coughed up the lead. However, since then, the Indians were unable to hold onto the top spot. The Twins now hold a meager half-game lead heading into this weekend.
How easy is an easy schedule for the Minnesota Twins? At least 23 of their final 41 games are against Kansas City, Detroit, or the Chicago White Sox. Those tree teams combined for 226 losses… so far. The Tigers are 35.5 games behind the Twins and barely playing .305 ball.
The Twins have three more games against the Texas Rangers, who are barely a .500 team. They have to play the Red Sox in Boston at Fenway in a couple of weeks, but the defending champion Sox are dunzo.
AL Central Showdown
The Twins toughest stretch on their schedule includes a nine-game stretch against the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians. Luckily, the Twins played six of those games in Minnesota.
The AL Central might come down to those final two series against the Indians. But the Twins have the opportunity to pull ahead and create a buffer before an inevitable showdown against Shane Bieber and the Indians.
“We just have to make the plays,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “We have guys that can make those plays. Have pretty good preparation setting for our guys, too. They have a great routine and work hard out there. When the game starts, I just think it’s been a tough run.”
The Twins added relief pitcher Sergio Romo to strengthen their bullpen. Romo has postseason experience after winning multiple titles with the San Francisco Giants. He will be one of the key late-inning relievers that Baldelli will rely on to secure wins against their division foes.
According to William Hill, the Minnesota Twins are 20/1 odds to win the World Series. The Cleveland Indians are also 20/1 odds to win the championship.