The Twins regressed a bit in the month of June. And by regression, they still played over .500 ball, going 15-12.
They still have one of the best winning percentages in baseball (.639) but now the New York Yankees are a game-and-a-half up on Minnesota in the American League for home-field advantage.
Maybe a little more concerning is the Cleveland Indians are starting to play better ball. Cleveland won 17 of 26 games in June and cut their deficit in the division from 11.5 games to 8 games, albeit they did just get smoked 13-0 in back-to-back games against the AL-worst Orioles.
Here's how the Twins schedule shakes out this month.
- July 2-4 at Oakland
- July 5-7 vs. Texas
- July 6-11 All-Star Break
- July 12-14 at Cleveland
- July 16-17 vs. Mets
- July 18-21 vs. Oakland
- July 22-24 vs. Yankees
- July 25-28 at Chicago
- July 30-31 at Miami
Minnesota will split the same amount of time at home as they do on the road – 12 home games and 12 road games – highlighted by a nine-game homestand in the middle of the month and 16 games against teams with winning records.
They'll see the red-hot Oakland A's – who have won 10 of their past 13 games – seven times and a solid Texas Rangers team for three games. Both squads are in Wild Card hunt. Plus, seven games against the Indians and White Sox.
The most noteworthy series of the month will be their three-game set against the Yankees at Target Field. Minnesota dropped two out of three at Yankee Stadium in May. It could be a precursor to the playoffs and an opportunity to show the league how they stack up against one of the favorites.
Let's say they drop their series to Oakland in California but rebound at home and head into the All-Star Break with a series win against Texas.
Even though Cleveland's playing better, a well-rested Twins team should go into Progressive Field and start the second-half strong with a statement series win on the road. They might have to beat Trevor Bauer to do it, but they won against him in June when Max Kepler homered three times.
The Mets are awful and Minnesota should sweep its two-game series against them barring Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard pitching a gem. The rest of the homestand will be tough, so I'll say the Twins split their four-game series against Oakland while taking two of three against the Yankees.
Then they'll close the month on the road by winning four of six against the White Sox and the lowly Marlins.
If I'm accurate, that puts the Twins at 15-9 in July and an overall record of 68-39 going into August. That would put them on pace to win 102 games.
The bad news: Cleveland has a cakewalk schedule in July, with 10 against Kansas City, three against Detroit and three more against Toronto. That's 16 games against bottom feeders.
- July 2-4 at Kansas City
- July 6-7 and Cincinnati
- July 12-14 vs. Twins
- July 15-18 at Detroit
- July 19-21 vs. Kansas City
- July 22-24 at Toronto
- July 25-28 at Kansas City
- July 30-31 vs. Houston
If the Twins win at least 15 games this month, and Cleveland goes 16-6 that means Minnesota's lead would be just six games heading into August.
However, it would still take an awful lot for the Indians to take the division. As it stands on July 2, the Twins have a 94.5% chance to win the Central.
As pointed out by Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus a few days back, even if the Twins play .500 ball the rest of the season, the Indians would have to play at 100-win pace to catch them.
So it's not time to panic, but the race to win the division might be a lot closer than what we thought it would be just a month ago.