(Updated: Updated Twins’ lead over Angels and Indians’ advantage over Astros)
The Minnesota Twins are on a roll and surging toward wrapping up the second wild card in the American League, but they have a daunting obstacle standing in their path. Minnesota is coming off a four-game demolition of the Detroit Tigers entering a three-game set at the white-hot Cleveland Indians, who have won 29 of their last 31 games.
The Twins rebounded from a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium by mauling the Tigers by a combined 39-12 score and hold a five-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the final wild-card slot. “It was a really nice response from the guys coming in here,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “I think everyone has their expectations to play well and win our share. But we ended up winning four, which was huge with the timing with where we’re at.” Although the Indians have clinched the American League Central, they still have plenty to play for, holding a two-game lead over Houston for the top record and home-field advantage in the AL. Cleveland, which went 5-1 on its road trip to move within two wins of 100 for the season, is 10-6 against the Twins this season
TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), STO (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Bartolo Colón (6-14, 6.63 ERA) vs. Indians RH Josh Tomlin (9-9, 4.98)
The 44-year-old Colon appears to be wearing down over the season’s final month, dropping all four starts in September while posting a bloated 9.17 ERA in that stretch. He lasted only 3 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium last time out and was pounded for six runs and a pair of homers in his career-worst 14th defeat. He surrendered three solo homers over five innings in a loss to Cleveland on Aug. 15.
Tomlin is unbeaten in four starts since returning from a five-week stint on the disabled list, going 2-0 and permitting a total of seven runs in that span. Tomlin has to make it through six innings since rejoining the rotation, but he is 5-0 in his last eight starts and has not lost since the Twins tagged him for four runs on June 25. Joe Mauer has tormented Tomlin, going 13-for-32 against him.
1. Twins SS Jorge Polanco is 11-for-27 during a seven-game hitting streak.
2. Indians 3B Jose Ramirez is 17-for-35 with 11 RBIs over the past 10 games.
3. Twins 2B Brian Dozier has three straight multiple-hit games.
PREDICTION: Indians 6, Twins 4