The Minnesota Twins look to pull off a sweep of the Cleveland Indians tonight, and the MLB odds for the contest suggest it won't be and easy task.
Whatever happens Thursday night and next week between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins could be all for naught, or all for a lot. These games are especially critical for the Twins who sit just a game behind the Houston Astros for the second AL Wild Card, while the Indians are still in it mathematically, but need a minor miracle.
Minnesota can complete a sweep of the Indians and all but finish Cleveland off Thursday night in a 7:10 PM (ET) first pitch at Target Field. The matchup features a couple of young arms on the hill for the initial duel, rookie Cody Anderson for the visitors and Kyle Gibson for the Twins, and the MLB Odds are tight with Minnesota in the -115 to -120 range on the moneyline. A quick check of SBR's live baseball odds reveals 8's across the board for the total, 5Dimes pricing both the 'over' and 'under' at -105.
Pitching Dominates First 2 Games Of Set
Gibson definitely has his work cut out for him to live up to the standards set by teammates Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes in the first two games of the series. Santana was behind Minnesota's 3-1 win on Tuesday with seven innings of 1-run baseball, and Hughes fired five shutout frames in Wednesday's 4-2 triumph.
This has been a very level series the last six seasons, the Twins 55-52 after last night's victory and 30-25 vs. the Indians at Target Field. Minnesota has 4-straight wins over Cleveland to take a 9-5 lead in the season series. The 'under' has definitely been the way to bet the clashes in Minnesota, totals now running 1-7 O/U on this diamond in 2015.
The clubs still have one more encounter to go, a long 4-game set at the start of next week in Cleveland.
Tribe Facing Gibson For 1st Time In 2015
Anderson has been a very pleasant addition to Terry Francona's rotation since joining the group in June. This is a kid the Tribe has been careful with in his previous 13 starts, and will be monitoring tonight. The 14th-round pick out of high school four years ago has already logged almost 150 innings between the majors and minors, and has only reached the 100-pitch plateau in three of his 13 assignments.
The rookie's ugliest appearance so far did come against these Twins in Cleveland about six weeks ago. Anderson was sent to the showers before the end of the third when Minnesota plated six against him. He was taken off the hook for the loss when Indians hitters scored nine over the next two innings to take the lead before losing.
Gibson treks to the bump for the 31st time in 2015, and fifth time this month when he's pitching to a pretty good 3.21 ERA only to have Minnesota lose three of his four outings. The former Missouri Tigers standout doesn't have huge home/road splits in the ERA column (3.10/4.43), but that is enough for a winning edge at Target Field, the Twins 9-7 in those games against 6-8 away from home. It's Gibson's first start of the year against the Indians, and Cleveland's lineup has proven to be rough on him in the past, coaxing enough walks in five starts to score 16 times in 25.2 innings (5.6 ERA).
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Bruce Dreckman will handle the plate in the series finale for Tom Hallion's crew. The ample-bellied veteran of 16 seasons was not on the field for all of July and is calling balls and strikes for just the 19th time in 2015, toting identical 10-8 records O/U on the totals and for home teams into Thursday's tilt. The last two times he's had dish duty, the contests went 'over' the baseball odds, and Dreckman's only appearance at Target Field this year also hopped the total, the seventh 'over' winner in the last eight times he's been under the mask on this diamond.
There are some light showers in Minneapolis this morning, but they are expected to clear out by game time with temps in the mid-60s. For my free MLB picks, I'm going to ride the wave of 'unders' the clubs have produced at Target Field.
Free MLB Pick: Indians-Twins Under 8 (-105) @ 5Dimes