The Cleveland Indians were just three games above .500 a week after the All-Star break, but they will go for their 100th win in the finale of a three-game series against the visiting Minnesota Twins on Thursday afternoon. Cleveland holds a one-game edge for American League’s best record while the Twins have secured their first playoff slot since 2010.
Red-hot designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is 7-for-10 over his last three outings and has 15 RBIs in the past 10 contests, failing to drive in a run in just one game during that span. Carlos Santana is 23-for-67 against Minnesota this season for the Indians, who have won 30 of their last 33 games and haven’t suffered back-to-back losses in more than a month (Aug. 22-23). The Twins clinched the second wild card when the Los Angeles Angels lost Wednesday night and became the first team in league history to reach the postseason after losing at least 100 games the previous year. Minnesota right-hander Ervin Santana will go for a career high-matching 17th victory when he opposes Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is 5-0 over his last six starts and can move into a tie for the major league lead as he vies for his 18th victory.
TV: 12:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FSN North (Minnesota), STO (Cleveland)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Twins RH Ervin Santana (16-8, 3.36 ERA) vs. Indians RH Carlos Carrasco (17-6, 3.43)
Santana, who recorded 17 victories with the Angels in 2010, yielded three runs over seven innings to beat Detroit on Saturday and reach at least 16 wins for the fourth time. Slotted to start the wild-card matchup against the New York Yankees, Santana took the loss at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 18 despite allowing two runs over 5 2/3 innings. He has made three starts against Cleveland this season, yielding one run in 19 innings.
Carrasco won his fourth consecutive start last time out with 5 2/3 strong innings at Seattle, permitting one run on six hits while striking out six. He is 7-1 in his last nine starts overall and has won both his outings against Minnesota this season, allowing one run in each to improve to 4-6 lifetime against the Twins. Joe Mauer has been a nemesis for Carrasco, going 12-for-27.
1. Indians 3B Jose Ramirez became the fourth player in franchise history to amass at least 88 extra-base hits in a season.
2. Twins SS Jorge Polanco hit a two-run homer Wednesday - only his 10th hit in 55 at-bats against Cleveland this year.
3. Indians OF Michael Brantley (ankle), out since Aug. 8, could be back in the lineup on the weekend.
PREDICTION: Indians 5, Twins 3