A pair of AL Central rivals close out a weekend series on the diamond up in the Twin Cities. The Cleveland Guardians are on the road as they finish up a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins Sunday afternoon. In the opening game of the series Friday night, it was the Twins winning a slugfest as they prevailed 12-8 to draw first blood in the series. The Guardians won the second game 3-2. Will the Twins defend home field and earn a victory here in the series finale or can the Guardians find a way to leave town on a positive note?
Guardians Looking to Earn Win on Getaway DayCleveland suffered their second straight loss as they were battered in the fifth inning of Friday's game with the Twins, sending them to defeat. The Guardians are tied for second in the AL Central, 2 games behind the Twins for the top spot in the division. Against Minnesota Friday, Oscar Mercado (two runs, two RBI), Amed Rosario (run, RBI) and Jose Ramirez (run, two RBI) each had two hits. Austin Hedges (his third), Mercado (his fourth) and Andres Gimenez (his fourth) each homered in the loss. Aaron Civale (1-3) took the loss on the mound as he allowed six runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts over 4.2 innings of work. They followed that up with a 3-2 win on Saturday to improve to 16-16.
Triston McKenzie is on the bump for his seventh appearance and sixth start of the year for the Guardians in this contest. He comes in 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA, a 1.023 WHIP, nine walks and 30 strikeouts over 29.1 innings of action on the year. McKenzie earned the win in his last start, which came last Saturday at home against the Blue Jays. He threw six innings, allowing two runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts in an 8-2 Cleveland victory. In his last three starts, McKenzie is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, three walks and 19 strikeouts over 18 innings of work. McKenzie makes his fifth career start against the Twins in this contest. He is 1-3 with a 5.95 ERA, a 0.966 WHIP, eight walks and 25 strikeouts over 19.2 innings of work. McKenzie is 1-1 with a 5.23 ERA, a 0.774 WHIP, two walks and 14 strikeouts over 10.1 innings in two career starts at Target Field.
Minnesota Twins Trying to Extend AL Central EdgeMinnesota bounced back from a rough set with the Astros as they took the opening game of this series behind an offensive barrage. The Twins hold a two-game lead over the White Sox and Guardians in the AL Central race. In Friday’s contest, Gary Sanchez (his second), Byron Buxton (his 10th), Jorge Polanco (his fourth) and Royce Lewis (his first, a grand slam) all went deep for Minnesota. Sonny Gray didn’t factor in the decision as he allowed two runs on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts over 4.1 innings of work. Griffin Jax (3-0) earned the win in relief despite allowing four runs on four hits with three walks and one strikeout in 2.1 innings of work. But they lost Saturday to fall to 19-15.
Joe Ryan is slated to take the ball and make his seventh start of the season for the Twins in this one. He comes in 3-2 with a 2.56 ERA, a 1.011 WHIP, 12 walks and 31 strikeouts over 31.2 innings of action on the season. Ryan took the loss in his last start, which came Tuesday against the Astros at home. He threw four innings, allowing four runs on four hits with five walks and three strikeouts in a 5-0 Twins defeat. In his last three starts, Ryan is 1-1 with a 3.45 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP, seven walks and 15 strikeouts over 15.2 innings of action. Ryan makes his third career start against the Guardians in this contest. He comes in 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA, a 0.417 WHIP, one walk and nine strikeouts over 12 innings of work. Ryan is 1-3 with a 4.85 ERA, a 1.112 WHIP, 14 walks and 31 strikeouts over 29.2 innings in six career starts at Target Field.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
McKenzie has pitched well for the Guardians this season but he is one of the few pitchers to live up to anything close to expectations in the first month-plus of the year. Cleveland got some offense in Friday’s game but they were torched by a nine-run fifth inning to end up on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Ryan struggled in his last outing against the Astros but the fact remains that he’s been decent in his work overall. The Twins have a solid lineup to work with, especially when Buxton is healthy. We saw Minnesota’s power game in the opening game of the series and they have the ability to put up crooked numbers. Give the Twins the advantage in this contest as they get the win to take the series.
Full-Game Total Pick
Cleveland has seen the over post an 19-12 mark going into Saturday’s contest. The Guardians are 6th in runs per game with 4.88 per contest, though that number climbs to 5.21 runs per game on the road. Cleveland has an average total of 9.68 runs per contest, a number that climbs to 10.37 runs per game on the road. Minnesota went into Saturday having seen the under go 17-13-3 in their first 33 games. The Twins are 19th in runs per game with just under four runs per contest and they average four runs per game at home. That makes the average total for Minnesota games at 7.67 runs, with the home number decreasing slightly to 7.63 runs a night. We saw 20 runs in the opening game of the series and we won’t see anything like that here. Lean toward the under in this contest as both teams are slowed down a bit by opposing pitchers.