Big challenge: Twins face Yankees with Indians charging in AL Central

This is not what the Twins had envisioned with an 11.5-game lead in early June.
Publish date:
Nelson Cruz

Having dropped five of their last seven games, the Twins (60-38) have allowed the Indians (57-41) to climb within 3 games in the race for the American League Central Division title – and the week ahead could tighten the competition further. 

While the Twins are hosting the AL-leading New York Yankees Monday through Wednesday, the Indians will be in Toronto facing a Blue Jays squad that's 25 games under .500. 

If you dig deeper, you'll see that the Indians will be throwing three stud pitchers – Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer and Shane Bieber – against a young, inconsistent Toronto lineup. 

At the same time, the Twins will face a daunting Yankees lineup without Jose Berrios getting a turn in the rotation, as it won't be his turn to start again until the Twins travel to Chicago for a weekend series against the White Sox. 

  • Monday: Martin Perez vs. C.C. Sabathia
  • Tuesday: Kyle Gibson vs. Domingo German
  • Wednesday: Jake Odorizzi vs. J.A. Happ

Advantage: Cleveland, without a doubt. 

Let's say the Yankees take two of three against the Twins and the Indians sweep the Blue Jays. That would shrink Minnesota's lead over Cleveland to one game in the AL Central. 

If the Twins get swept by the Yankees and the Indians sweep the Blue Jays, then Cleveland would have crawled all the way out of an 11.5-game hole and into a tie for first place with the Twins. 

All in all, the Twins and Indians have been polar opposites since early June. 

  • June 3 record: Twins 40-18, Indians 29-30
  • Since June 4: Twins 20-20, Indians 28-11

Fortunately, the Twins' three series after playing the Yankees are against the White Sox, Marlins and Royals. The Indians, meanwhile, play four in Kansas City to end the week and then play nine straight at home against tough competition, including the Astros, Angels and Rangers. 

Assuming the division race is still close at that point, it'll set the stage for the most important series of the season as the Twins and Indians battle in a four-game set at Target Field Aug. 8-11. 

However, with the Twins' bullpen continuing to show cracks in the armor, they'll need some additions by the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline.   

According to FanGraphs, the Twins have a 78.6% chance to win the AL Central compared to the Indians' 21.4% chance. But let it be known that Minnesota's chances of winning the division just a few weeks ago was greater than 95%. 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-01-18 at 3.17.49 PM

No KAT? No D'Lo? No problem as Timberwolves defeat Pelicans

The Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell, but still picked up a (SCORE) win.

Screen Shot 2021-01-23 at 7.53.44 PM

Spinouts, crashes across Twin Cities as snow gets heavier

There have been multiple incidents across the metro area.

Mason Branstrator

Family, friends raising funds for teen soccer standout with spinal injury

Mason Branstrator of Duluth was injured in a skiing accident.

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 9.08.16 PM

Tributes pour in after MN Supreme Court justice's daughter found dead

Olivia Chutich died near the campus of Iowa State University.

Image from iOS (96)

Early Saturday fire damages Burger King in Richfield

The fire was reported around 1:15 a.m. Saturday.

Jamal Mashburn Jr. / Gopher Basketball

Maryland hands Gophers first home loss of season

The 17th-ranked Gophers fell to the Terrapins 63-49 on Saturday afternoon.

Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville.

Minnesota Department of Health files lawsuit against Alibi Drinkery

The Lakeville bar has been in the news for defying orders.

Iron Tap snowmobile delivery

This MN restaurant will deliver to your ice house... on a snowmobile

Just in case you work up an appetite fishing on Lake Waconia.

Klobuchar and Trump

Klobuchar reacts to report Trump plotted against his attorney general

The NYT story alleges further tactics to overturn the election.


Jonathan Schoop

Twins lose, Indians win to trim gap in AL Central to 5 games

Jonathan Schoop homered, had an error and left the game with an injury.

Jose Berrios

Twins can't relax as Indians apply pressure in the AL Central

Cleveland is the hottest team in the MLB in June.

Rocco Baldelli

Yankees, Astros now have bigger division leads than Twins

Minnesota has the third-best record in the AL entering play Friday.

Target Field

Here's how the Twins can clinch the AL Central this week

Minnesota can clinch as soon as Wednesday night.

Jonathan Schoop

Schoop HR lifts Twins over Rangers; lead in division race grows

Minnesota leads the AL Central by 1.5 games over Cleveland.

Max Kepler

Indians have been 'chasing down these Twins' for months

The biggest series of the season starts Thursday night.

Nelson Cruz

Twins have chance to boost lead as Indians enter gauntlet

Cleveland's schedule is about to get extremely difficult.

Luis Arraez

Twins leave Cleveland with bigger lead in the AL Central

A later homer lifted the Indians to a win Sunday.