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Wild Card race down to 2 weeks: Twins and Angels have tough week ahead

Minnesota is 2 up on the Angels. Five other teams are 4.5 to 5.5 games back.

All that separates the Twins from the playoffs or a six-month vacation are 13 games. 

The 13 include nine straight on the road, beginning Monday in New York and ending next Thursday in Detroit. Tucked in between is a three-day stay in Cleveland for a critical series against the scorching Indians. 

It's as nasty as nasty gets, and it comes with immense pressure as the Angels breathe down Minnesota's back in the hunt for a Wild Card spot. 

Fortunately, the Angels loss coupled with the Twins' win on Sunday has Minnesota two games ahead of the Angels for the second Wild Card berth in the American League. 

A sweep of the Yankees is essential if the Twins want one final shot at winning the top Wild Card spot, which would give them home-field advantage in the one-game Wild Card playoff. 

As it stands Monday morning, the Yankees are four games ahead of the Twins.

Per the computers, here's Minnesota's playoff chances. 

Twins-Yankees pitching matchups

The Twins will face Jaime Garcia, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka in their three-game series against the Yankees. Minnesota has not faced any of them this season, so this is what you need to know about the. 

Monday: Ervin Santana vs. Jaime Garcia

  • Garcia has a 4.60 ERA in six starts since being traded from the Twins to the Yankees. 

Tuesday: Jose Berrios vs. C.C. Sabathia

  • Sabathia has been good this season away from Yankee Stadium, but he's allowed 30 runs in just over 57 innings at home (4.71 ERA at home). 

Wednesday: Bartolo Colon vs. Masahiro Tanaka

  • Tanaka has been awesome since mid-June with the exception of one really bad outing two starts ago against the Rangers. Even with that bad start he's posted a 3.76 ERA since June 23. 

For the Twins, Santana hasn't faced the Yankees yet this season. Berrios beat them (allowed just one run) in his only start against them and Colon took a loss against the Yankees (it was Colon's first start after signing with the Twins). 

Angels' week ahead

This could be a death spiral week for the Angels, but only if the Twins can pick up some wins. The Angels are off Monday before hosting the Indians for three and then playing at Houston for three. 

Look at the who's who of starting pitchers they face this week. 

  • Tuesday: Mike Clevinger – allowed just 10 earned runs in his last eight starts.
  • Wednesday: Josh Tomlin – 2.66 ERA over his last seven starts. 
  • Thursday: Trevor Bauer – 2.63 ERA over his last 11 outings. 
  • Friday: Charlie Morton – allowed more than 4 runs in a start once all season. 
  • Saturday: Justin Verlander – 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA since being traded to Houston.
  • Sunday: Collin McHugh – 3.65 ERA in nine starts this season. 

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