New on Sports Illustrated: Twins, Indians fight for control of AL Central

August 24, 2020 at 04:47AM

If the form shown so far this season overall and during their first series holds true, runs will likely be at a premium when Cleveland begins a three-game series at home Monday against Minnesota.

The Twins and Indians have had two of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball so far during this abbreviated season, which has them both in contention for the American League Central Division title and a playoff spot.

The Indians entered Sunday second in MLB with a team ERA of 2.73 and first in strikeouts (289), while Minnesota was fourth with a 3.46 team ERA.

Each team will give the ball to one of the better pitchers in the AL so far this season.

The Twins will start right-hander Kenta Maeda, who came over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the offseason and has thus far been a terrific addition.

Maeda is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA, 33 strikeouts and 14 hits allowed in 31 2/3 innings, and he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in his last start on Tuesday against Milwaukee, striking out 12 in the process.

Maeda was the winning pitcher in an Aug. 1 win against Cleveland, allowing one hit and striking out six in six innings of work.

Cleveland will counter with right-hander Aaron Civale, who has been solid all season.

Civale enters with a 3-2 record, a 2.91 ERA, 32 strikeouts and just three walks in 34 innings pitched.

Civale has faced Minnesota once this season, taking a loss after striking out nine and allowing three runs and five hits in six innings of work during a 3-1 Minnesota win on Aug. 2.

Minnesota took three of four in the first series of the season between the teams in Minneapolis from July 31 to Aug. 2.

The Indians scored just four runs in that entire series.

Cleveland (17-11) enters 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for first in the Central after losing two out of three to the last place Detroit Tigers over the weekend.

Despite a 7-4 loss on Sunday, Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar said one silver lining was the relief performance of Logan Allen, who provided 4 2/3 innings of relief to preserve Cleveland's bullpen after starter Carlos Carrasco only went 3 1/3 innings.

"He gave us what we needed," Alomar said. "We have a big series coming up. We didn't have to use much of the bullpen."

The Twins (19-10) are coming off of a series where they took two out of three games at Kansas City.

One situation to keep an eye on for the Twins is the health of late-inning reliever Tyler Clippard, who had to leave Sunday's 5-4 win over the Royals after taking a line drive off his pitching arm near the elbow.

"Initial imaging came back good, but beyond that, we are probably going to have to wait and see how he's doing over the next few days," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I can't imagine he's going to be throwing a baseball anytime in the very near future, but that's all I can really say. He came out of it OK. I think he was relieved to know that there wasn't anything more serious when he got the results of the X-rays."

--Field Level Media

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