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#919 Minnesota Twins 9 vs.
#920 Cleveland Indians -140
Friday, July 12, 2019 at 7:10pm EDT
Written by Sporty Jordy

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When and where: July 12, 2019, Progressive Field, Cleveland, OH, 7:10 PM ET Business picks up immediately on the other side of the All-Star break with a much-anticipated clash between the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. The Indians are rolling into the second half of the season on a six-game winning streak, while the Twins have lost four of their last seven games. Mike Clevinger is expected to start things out on the mound for the Indians against Twins right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson.

Twins are the real deal

Few would have predicted the Twins would be sitting behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Houston Astros with the fourth-best record in baseball. Yet, the same team that didn’t even finish 2018 with a winning record and missed the playoffs is currently sitting at the top of the AL Central division. They’ve hung on long enough to be respected as a legitimate contender. That isn’t to say the Indians can’t go on a run and overtake their No. 1 spot.

The Twins will have to keep the momentum going to maintain their five-game lead. There is still plenty of baseball left to play. Not to mention the hopes of an entire city riding on a second playoff berth for the Twins in nine seasons. Gibson gets the green light to start things off on the mound on Friday. He is throwing a 4.09 ERA with an 8-4 record. Along with a pair of one-inning appearances, including serving as an opener in a recent outing against the Texas Rangers, he pitched six innings against the Oakland Athletics, who finished with five hits and three earned runs in the road meeting.

Indians aren’t dead yet

Don’t go digging a hole in the dirt for the Indians in the AL Central divisional race just yet. After winning the divisional title the last three straight seasons, things have seemed a bit stale for the Indians in the first half of 2019. The Twins essentially got off to such a great start the Indians were left choking on their smoke. However, the smoke is dying down, and the Indians are slowly climbing their way back into the race.

Ahead of the All-Star break, they managed to win six straight games and cut into the lead, putting them five games out from first place. A series win over the Twins would put them back in the conversation with the rest of the championship contenders. Of course, they’ll have to play to their strengths and be more consistent defensively if they have any hope of changing the narrative. Clevinger (4.44 ERA), who has missed most of the season with injuries, will be the first man on the mound for the Indians in Friday’s game against the Twins. He is still trying to work himself into a rhythm since returning in mid-June. After a pair of bad performances, he looked much better in his recent outing against the Kansas City Royals, who he held scoreless for six innings, while striking out nine batters.

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I’m not ready to say Clevinger is back to form after his six-inning shutout against a bad Kansas City Royals offense. They came into that game as the fourth-worst run-scoring offense in the league. So it definitely served as a perfect tune-up game for the returning Clevinger. The Twins, on the other hand, are a completely different animal. They are averaging the second most hits in the league and slashing .272/.336/.497 at the plate. Not only is this the best offense Clevinger has faced since returning, but it’s one of the best offenses in the league, period. Let’s also not pretend the Indians were actually playing that great of competition when stringing together their six-game winning streak. They beat the Royals, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds—all teams with losing records and sitting either at the bottom or near the bottom of their respective divisions. This is a major step up in competition on Friday, and I don’t believe the Indians, much less Clevinger, will be ready for it. I like the Twins to open things up with a win and put the Indians on the ropes early.

Prediction: Minnesota Twins (+124)

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The Indians haven’t been a great run-scoring team, but in their last three outings, they’re averaging 8.67 runs per game. I’m expecting some sloppy play after the break, which should open up the offenses a bit on Friday. The Twins have been hitting consistently at the plate all season. I don’t see any reason for that to change here. Give me the over betting total.

Prediction: Over (9)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.