Yankees, Astros now have bigger division leads than Twins have over Indians

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

Look at the MLB standings entering play Friday and Twins fans will see that the Cleveland Indians have cut Minnesota's lead in the Central Division to six games. 

That lead was 11 1/2 games not long ago. What's more shocking is that while the Twins are struggling a bit, the Yankees and Astros have gotten hot and both teams now have bigger leads in their respective divisions than the Twins have in the Central. 

New York (56-29) leads the AL East by 7 1/2 games, and the Astros (55-32) own a 7 1/2-game lead in the AL West. What's more is that Minnesota now has the third-best record in the AL, a half-game behind the Astros and 2 1/2 games from the Yankees. 

It's not time to panic, much less hit the worry button. Minnesota is 54-32, has what is still considered a big lead at this time of the season and has yet to lose three games in a row. 

According to Baseball Reference, there's still a 99.4% chance the Twins make the playoffs and a 97.4% chance they win the division. But Baseball Prospectus, which uses a simulation method to reach its outcomes, shows an 89.6% chance the Twins win the division

Those percentages sound like sure things, it's anything but. There are still 76 games to go and 13 of them are against the Indians, who were 29-30 on June 3 and have since gone 19-8 to get to 48-38. 

The Twins went 14-14 over the same timeframe, watching their record go from an astonishing 40-18 to a still very good 54-32. 

Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus recently tweeted that if the Twins play .500 ball the rest of the season, the Indians would need to play at a 100-win pace to catch them. Well, since June 3 the Indians have won 70.4% of their games, which is a 114-win pace in a 162-game season. 

Cleveland is off Friday before facing the Reds this weekend, meaning they have a legitimate chance to have 50 wins at the All-Star break. The Twins host the Rangers Friday-Sunday before a big series in Cleveland immediately after the All-Star break. 

If the Indians take care of the Reds and the Twins struggle at home against Texas, the series in Cleveland could have massive implications to what happens in the Central Division. 

For example, if the Indians go 4-1 against the Reds and Twins and the Twins go 3-3 against the Rangers and Indians, the division lead would be down to 4 1/2 games. 

There's definitely pressure brewing and it appears the Twins are starting to feel it. 

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