#917 New York Yankeesvs.#918 Minnesota Twins
Written by Chris Kubala
New York Yankees (47-42 SU, 49-40 RL, 50-38-1 O/U) vs. Minnesota Twins (46-45 SU, 45-46 RL, 40-46-5 O/U)
MLB: Monday, July 17, 2017, Target Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 8:10 pm ET
Lines: Minnesota +100, New York -110; Over/Under: 10
A matchup of a pair of teams in the midst of the crowded American League wild card race opens up in the Twin Cities. The New York Yankees play the first game of a three game set with the Minnesota Twins Monday night. New York had the nightcap of a Sunday doubleheader with the Red Sox Sunday night: they won the opening game of the twin bill 3-0 Sunday afternoon. Minnesota dropped the rubber game of their road set with the Astros, falling 5-3 Sunday. The Yankees held a 5-2 edge in the season series last year, taking three of four here June 16-19, 2016.
New York’s 16 inning win Saturday, coupled with their win in the first game of the doubleheader Sunday, drew them within 2.5 games of Boston in the AL East. The Yankees held a two game edge over the Twins for the second wild card entering Sunday night. New York banged out 12 hits with Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius (two runs, RBI), Clint Frazier (run), Ji-Man Choi (RBI) and Ronald Torreyes (RBI) each having a pair. CC Sabathia (8-3) got the win with six scoreless innings: he allowed two hits with five walks and three strikeouts. Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth and recorded his ninth save of the year.
With the Yankees rotation and bullpen in complete disarray, it’s up in the air who may get the start here. It could be Luis Cessa or the team could call up Caleb Smith to make his major league debut. If that’s the case, New York would be bringing up a guy who has been on a roll in the minors this season. Smith has made 16 appearances, 15 starts, for Scranton-Wilkes/Barre in the International League this season. He is 8-0 with a 2.07 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, 24 walks and 86 strikeouts over 87 innings of work this year. In his career, Smith has made 111 minor league appearances, 84 of which have been starts: he is 32-23 with three saves, a 3.15 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, 165 walks and 430 strikeouts over 457 innings of work.
Minnesota dropped the rubber game of their three game set against the Astros. In the process, the Twins fell two games behind the Yankees for the final wild card slot in the American League. Minnesota mustered only five hits in the defeat Sunday as they were shut down by Mike Fiers of the Astros. Ehire Adrianza (run, RBI) was the only Minnesota player with two hits while Kennys Vargas (his eighth) hit a solo homer for the Twins. Kyle Gibson (5-8) took the loss as he allowed four runs on six hits with four walks and six strikeouts over six innings of work.
Lefty Adalberto Mejia gets the ball for the 13th time this season for Minnesota. He is 4-4 with a 4.43 ERA, a 1.477 WHIP, 32 walks and 54 strikeouts over 65 innings of work. Mejia took the loss in his last outing, which came against the Orioles at home last Sunday. He threw 6.2 innings, allowing four runs on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts in a 5-1 Twins loss. Mejia is 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA, a 1.24 WHIP, five walks and 14 strikeouts over 19.1 innings in his last three starts. He faces the Yankees for the first time in his career as he makes his 15th major league appearance and 14th start. Mejia is 2-3 with a 5.62 ERA and a 1.608 WHIP over eight starts totaling 41.2 innings at Target Field in his career.
The Twins have been getting by with smoke and mirrors as they are above .500 despite a dismal run differential. They were still within striking distance of both wild card spots and the AL Central lead despite all their issues. The Yankees are clearly the better team but fatigue and uncertainty as to who will be available to pitch makes it a challenge, as does the travel involved. Look for Minnesota to take advantage of the issues that New York has at the moment to come up with the victory.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.