Injuries could give Twins early leg up on Indians in AL Central

Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis are all hurt.
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Jose Ramirez

Jose Ramirez finished third in the MVP vote each of the last two seasons. 

The Twins are going to catch a break when they open the season with a three-game series against the two-time defending American League Central Division champion Cleveland Indians this week. 

All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor will not make the trip to Minnesota as he continues to rehab a calf injury that he suffered in February. Fellow All-Star Jose Ramirez was carted off the field over the weekend after fouling a ball off his leg, and Twins killer Jason Kipnis is out with a calf injury similar to Lindor's.

Ramirez hit 39 homers and finished third in the AL MVP vote for a second straight season in 2018, when he hit .318/.447/.606 with five homers and 11 RBI in 19 games against the Twins, 10 of which the Indians won. 

The switch-hitting third baseman hasn't been ruled out for Thursday's opener (3:10 p.m. first pitch), but he's still in Arizona receiving treatment

Lindor slugged 38 homers, finished sixth in MVP voting and led the league with 129 runs last season. The 25-year-old switch hitter slashed .301/.376/.602 with six homers and 15 RBI against the Twins, and he was especially dangerous at Target Field where he hit .346 in seven games.

According to ESPN, Lindor and Ramirez because the second teammates in MLB history to each rack up 80+ extra-base hits in back-to-back seasons. The first teammates to do it were a couple of guys named Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig (1936-37). 

In 118 career games against the Twins, Kipnis has 19 homers, 70 RBI, 22 doubles and 20 stolen bases – all career highs against any one opponent during his eight years in the big leagues. 

Of course, injuries to three position players doesn't help the Twins against the trio of starting pitchers the Indians plan to use: Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, who combined for 674 strikeouts last season. That's a massive number and just 86 fewer than all of Minnesota's starting pitchers totaled (760 strikeouts) in 2018. 

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