With 51 games left in the regular season, the Twins hold a three-game lead over the Indians in the Central Division with a haul of tough games on tap over the next week.
Minnesota hosts the Braves Monday-Wednesday before the biggest series of the season Thursday-Sunday at Target Field against the Indians. That's tough sledding, considering the Braves lead the NL East and the Indians are the hottest team on the planet since June 4.
Cleveland, fresh off a sweep of the Angels, is 16-7 since the All-Star break and 37-15 since June 4, which just so happens to mark the day the Twins' 11.5-game lead began to shrink.
The Twins were 40-18 on June 4 but have since gone 29-24, a very respectable .547 winning percentage that has simply been dwarfed by Cleveland's .712 winning percentage.
While the Twins are facing the Braves, the Indians will be hosting the Rangers.
The good news for the Twins is that the Rangers are due to start All-Star Mike Minor on Monday and Lance Lynn, who's having a great season, on Wednesday. And only one of Cleveland's dominating starters, Mike Clevinger, is scheduled to pitch during the series.
Meanwhile, Minnesota will have its hands full Monday night as Braves 22-year-old rookie Mike Soroka takes the mound. Soroka is 10-2 with a 2.37 ERA, good for second lowest in the NL.
The Twins will counter with Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.73 ERA), followed by pitching matches Tuesday and Wednesday featuring Jose Berrios (10-5, 2.80 ERA) against Max Fried (12-4, 4.07 ERA), and Martin Perez (8-4, 4.58 ERA) opposed by Kevin Guasman (3-7, 6.19 ERA).
That'll set the stage for four games against the Indians, with the following pitching matchups tentatively scheduled:
- Thursday: Kyle Gibson vs. Adam Plutko
- Friday: Twins TBD vs. Shane Bieber
- Saturday: Jake Odorizzi vs. Indians TBD
- Sunday: Jose Berrios vs. Zach Plesac
After the series with Cleveland, Minnesota gets an off day followed by two games against the slumping Brewers in Milwaukee. Then the schedule gets much easier as the Twins play 26 of their final 38 games against the White Sox, Tigers and Royals.