The Minnesota Twins plays host to the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night in the finale of their three-game mid-week series from Target Field. Tuesday's double-header saw a split between the two teams, as the Indians took the day cap and the twins found some run support at night. Even though the Indians sit in second place and the Twins in last place, both in the AL Central, only 7.5 games separate these two teams. On the season, the two teams have met 18 times, with the Twins taking 11 games. Neither team has much to play for at this point except for the Indians trying to find their way back to drawing closer to Minnesota on the season. Fans can expect an exciting matchup on Wednesday night, especially given the pride sure to be on the line by both teams.
Indians Looking Towards 2022The Cleveland Indians likely have had one of their worst finishes to a season in recent history but still find themselves in second place in the AL Central. Sitting 12.5 games behind the White Sox, the postseason isn't in the cards for them this season, but it still has presented a nice opportunity for youngsters on the side to fill out the roster the last few weeks. This experience can prove to be so valuable come the 2022 season and there's nothing better than some final rivalry success against the Twins as well. The Indians continue to be without Shane Bieber (shoulder), Josh Naylor (ankle), and Wilson Ramos (knee), which has only spread their depth thinner as the season has progressed. If the Indians can take the series win in Wednesday's finale, it'll be a great momentum builder for some of the youngsters and regardless, Cleveland will come out ready to go.
Cleveland's offense, while never elite, was good enough to put up runs and be dangerous on an innning-by-inning base in the past. Tis years' struggles show why the record has been so poor. The Indians rank 26th in baseball in both batting average and hits per game, while ranking 12th in home runs per game. The Twins have a strong lineups themselves and the Indians will be hard pressed to keep pace with them on the road on Wednesday night. Over the last week, the Indians have struggled on the offensive end. Mykes Straw is the leader with a .222 average, while their next best eight batters who have consistently seen action in the last six games, are all hitting below .200. Unless something drastic changes on Wednesday, expect another low-scoring affair for at least Cleveland.
According to MLB.com, Cal Quantrill will get the start for the Indians. The righty has a 5-3 record and 3.04 ERA on the season, as he's slowly helped to grow expectations that next season's rotation could be historically strong for the team. Quantrill has appeared in 37 games total but started only 19. He's also already seen five different times this year, with the last three of those in starts. In the the starts, he has one win, going a total of 17 innings, allowing seven runs. His last start against the Twins on the 9th was one of Quantrill's best of the season and if he can find that same form again, the Indians will be in great hands.
Twins Limping Towards Finish LineThe Twins have been right there with the Indians as being the class of the AL Central over the last few seasons. That makes it even more surprising that Wednesday's matchup won't have anything on the line for either team when the two teams take the field. The Twins sit in last place in the division but could easily move out of that space by the time the season draws to an end, which would mean some much-needed momentum and confidence heading into the offseason and everything to come in 2022. The Twins continue to be without some of their best hitters, as Mitch Garver (back) and Alex Kirilloff (wrist), both are out. Add in four starters and five relievers to the IL and it's no surprise to see the Twins struggling to get to the end of the fall.
For as poor as the Twins have been, their offense has been one of the better ones in baseball. They rank 14th in batting average, 13th in hits per game, and fourth in home runs per game. The long ball has been the all-mighty equalizer for Minnesota over the last few months and fans can expect that to be the case again on Wednesday. Over the last week, the lineup has been pretty quiet, with Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano leading the charge. There still remains a handful of everyday players who are struggling to make much of an impact on the offense. Jorge Polanco has slowed down after a hot end to the summer, as has Josh Donaldson. Despite that, three Twins have had three home runs over the last seven games and if the offense can take advantage again of that power, they'll have a great opportunity to outpace the Indians.
According to MLB.com, Griffin Jax will get the start for the Twins at home. The righty enters with a modest 3-3 record but it's been a struggle keeping teams off the scoreboard, sitting on a 6.72 ERA. In ten games started as a rookie, the potential is there but the consistency continues to be quite a ways off. He hasn't allowed fewer than four runs in a start since August 16th but has been strong in two appearances against Cleveland this season. Grabbing one win in a bullpen performance in June, Jax has combined to pitch 10.1 innings against the Indians, allowing five runs. His recent form though makes it hard to imagine him having that same success on Wednesday night.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Indians have had their fair share of struggles this season but Wednesday appears to be a perfect opportunity for them to try to right the ship as they near the end of the season. The offense has struggled but with Jax taking the mound for the Twins, the Indians will love their opportunity to score some runs given how poor his form has been of late. They should have a good opportunity for their bats to bounce back and to put up some runs in the rubber match of the series. The Indians will also like their chances with Quantrill on the mound for their side. He enters with a strong 3.04 ERA and the Twins, who have made a living off of home runs over the last week, likely won't have the luxury to rely on that on Wednesday. Wednesday night presents the perfect opportunity for the Indians to seal the series and to try to find some positives as they navigate the final stretch of baseball.
Full-Game Total Pick
Both offenses have been quiet heading into Wednesday's matchup. The Indians have an offense made up almost entirely of guys hitting under .200 over the last week, while the Twins aren't much different, but have had the help with hitting home runs to make a difference. Add in the Indians will be tossing Quantrill out to start and it makes the Twins' offensive hopes even more diminished. For the Twins, they'll start Jax, which gives the Indians plenty of hope to put up a big number, but they have been playing too poorly to put a ton of faith in that happening to the extent that the over is a winner. Additionally, according to covers.com, for the Indians, the under is 7-0 in their last seven games against American League Central opponents, is 4-0 in Quantrill's last four starts against American League Central opponents, is 7-0 in their last seven games against a team with a losing record, and is 4-0 in Quantrill's last four starts against a team with a losing record. In meetings between the two teams, the under is 39-16-3 in the last 58 meetings in Minnesota and is 35-17-5 in the last 57 meetings overall.