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There were a couple of interesting factoids that popped up in yesterday’s excruciating loss to Cleveland. They touched on Nelson Cruz’ torrid start to the second half. Eddie Rosario has been one of the best hitters in baseball in the last few weeks, and has still been overshadowed by Cruz and Max Kepler. The Twins have been successful with runners in scoring position. I’m sure that wasn’t the takeaway most Twins fans had, however.
The Twins starters have been pretty bad for the last week or so. Cruz tweaked his wrist and Miguel Sano had a scare when he was hit by a pitch. Add to that the Indians’ blistering pace over the last month, and Twins Territory is suddenly reflecting on Minnesota’s long, terrible athletic history.
But guess what, Minnesota? This isn’t even about you. Since the All Star break, the Twins have been above .500, They’ve had a fairly difficult schedule, but have crushed the teams they should, and have been competitive against their stronger opponents. The Indians have been absolutely incendiary.
Of course, while the Twins were struggling with the Yankees, A’s, Braves and suddenly brilliant Mets, Cleveland played a 14 game stretch against the Tigers, Royals and Blue Jays. Of course they are red hot right now. Oh, and before the break, while we’re at it, since the 11th of June, they have played 13 games against teams (well, 14 now, after last night) against teams that are above .500. They are 2-2 against the Twins and 1-2 against the Astros, and 4-3 against the Rangers
Cleveland might not actually be that hot, but instead they are playing an extremely soft middle of their schedule. This is great news for Cleveland, because they are 19-24 against teams that are above .500. The Twins, are 26-29 against such opponents.
The Indians would have to go 7-5 against teams above .500 to attain the same record as the Twins, which is bad news for them, not only because that is a formidable task, but also because they have 12 more games against above .500 teams to play than the Twins do. Meanwhile, Minnesota closes the month with 4 consecutive series against the White Sox and Tigers.
The Twins have MLB.com’s ranking of “easiest schedule” for the rest of the way. They also have a bullpen that will get healthy and an offense that hasn’t given up, even when they are down by double digits. Maybe this stretch is pretty tough, but there is too much going in the Twins’ favor to think for a moment that the Indians aren’t going to cool off.