Minnesota Twins (65-62 SU, 65-62 RL, 56-62-9 O/U) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (60-67 SU, 58-69 RL, 60-61-6 O/U)
MLB: Saturday, August 26, 2017, Rogers Centre, Toronto, Ontario, 1:07 pm ET
Lines: Toronto -139, Minnesota +129; Over/Under: 9.5
It’s the middle game of a series between a pair of teams in the midst of the American League wild card race north of the border. The Minnesota Twins are on the road for the second of their three game set with the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday afternoon. Minnesota lost the rubber game of a rare five game set with the White Sox as they fell 5-1 on the road Thursday. Toronto dropped the rubber game of their three game series with Tampa Bay, falling 2-0 on the road Thursday afternoon. The pitching matchup for Friday’s series opener saw Bartolo Colon pitch for the Twins against Toronto’s J.A. Happ. First pitch in the game was set for 7:07 pm ET.
Minnesota Twins Fighting to Maintain Wild Card Spot
Despite losing three of five to the lowly White Sox, Minnesota entered Friday in an enviable position. The Twins held a half-game lead over three teams for the second wild card spot in the American League. Minnesota had five hits in the loss Thursday with no player having more than one in the game. Byron Buxton hit a solo homer, his 10th of the year, in the sixth inning to avoid a shutout. Chris Gimenez had a double for the only other extra base hit for the Twins. Jose Berrios (11-6) took the loss as he allowed five runs on four hits with three walks and nine strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work.
Dillon Gee takes the ball for his 10th appearance and third start of the season overall. It’s his sixth appearance and second start for the Twins after starting the season with the Rangers. He has a 1-0 record with one save, a 2.84 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, eight walks and 26 strikeouts over 31.2 innings of work this season. Gee picked up the win in his last outing, which came as a start in the second game of a doubleheader on the road against the White Sox Monday. He threw six innings, allowing one run on two hits with no walks and four strikeouts in a 10-2 Minnesota win. Gee makes his third career start against the Blue Jays here: he is 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA and a 1.342 WHIP over 12.2 innings of work. He won his lone career start at Rogers Centre, which came with the Mets back on May 20, 2012. Gee threw 6.2 innings, allowing three runs on five hits with four walks and six strikeouts in a 6-5 Mets win.
Toronto Blue Jays Trying to Hang in Wild Card Picture
Toronto dropped two of three to Tampa Bay and is seeing its flickering playoff hopes dim by the day. The Blue Jays entered Friday five games behind the Twins for the final wild card spot after their fifth loss in six games. Toronto finished Thursday’s game with six hits, all of which were singles: Steve Pearce was the lone player with two in the game. The Blue Jays left eight men on base and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the contest. Tom Koehler (0-1), acquired from Miami recently, took the loss in his team debut. He allowed one run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts over five innings of work.
Marco Estrada is on the hill for his 27th start of the year for Toronto here. He comes in with a 5-8 record along with a 5.07 ERA, a 1.442 WHIP, 61 walks and 147 strikeouts over 145.2 innings of work this season. Estrada has just one win in his last 15 starts as he recorded a no-decision his last time out, which was against the Cubs on the road Sunday. He threw six innings, allowing three runs on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts in a 6-5, 10 inning, Blue Jays defeat. Estrada is 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA, a 1.62 WHIP, eight walks and 13 strikeouts over 17.1 innings in his last three starts. He makes his ninth career appearance and seventh start against the Twins here: he has a 1-2 record with a 4.23 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP over 38.1 innings of action. Estrada is 12-15 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.225 WHIP in 43 appearances, 40 starts, covering 238.1 innings at Rogers Centre in his career.
- Twins are 5-1 in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- Twins are 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a right-handed starter
- Blue Jays are 1-4 in their last 5 vs. a team with a winning record.
- Blue Jays are 1-4 in their last 5 games vs. a starter with a WHIP less than 1.15
- Blue Jays are 1-5 in their last 6 overall
A battle between wild card hopefuls would normally bring more excitement but both teams are dealing with a mounting pile of injuries. Troy Tulowitzki headlines the missing for the Blue Jays while Miguel Sano is the top missing piece for the Twins. The pitching matchup isn’t overly inspiring as Gee just made his first start for the Twins in his last outing. Meanwhile, Estrada has one just once in the last nearly three months. With that kind of track record, coupled with Toronto’s recent slide, it’s tough to back them, even at home. Look for the Twins to get the win in this one as they claw to maintain their standing in the playoff picture.
Pick: Minnesota Twins +129
The Twins continue to amaze as they are in the playoff picture despite mediocre pitching and a -37 run differential this late in the season. Toronto is the 12th place team in the American League but still stands within a good week of climbing into the thick of the playoff picture. That shows you how topsy-turvy the American League is this season: whichever team is hot over the last week to 10 days of the regular season likely ends up making the postseason. Will it be either of these teams? That’s hard to tell, especially given the issues that they both face.
The over is 11-0 in the Twins last 11 on astroturf and 5-1 in the second game of their last six series. Toronto has seen the over go 3-0-1 in their last four at home against teams with a winning record and 4-1 in their last five against a right-handed starter. The teams have gone over the total in each of their last five meetings here at the Rogers Centre. With questionable arms on the mound, look for this one to go over the number slightly.