Series Preview: Minnesota Twins vs. Cleveland Indians

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Indians’ Bats Finally Showing Signs of Life

Don’t look now, but the Indians are finally starting to resemble the team we all thought they would be at the start of the season. Ok, so maybe that’s not entirely true. Dropping two of three to the Royals and a four-game split with the Blue Jays doesn’t exactly scream instant contender, but it’s a start.

The main reason for the optimism is the late arrival of the Indians offense. As the weather has begun to heat up, so too have the Indians’ bats. They’ve scored 38 runs over the course of their last seven games thanks largely to the re-emergence of Jason Kipnis, a healthy Michael Brantley, and a red-hot Brandon Moss. Throw in equal parts of Carlos Santana and (I can’t believe I’m saying this) Ryan Raburn, and the Indians are getting back on track.

Apr 28, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians right fielder Brandon Moss (44) celebrates his three-run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It’s better late than never, I guess. For much of the first month of the season, the Indians spent many game days sleep walking their way up and down he lineup, providing little more than a run here and a run there. This team looks different. Gone is the April malaise and in its place is a vibrancy we haven’t seen since the closing month of the 2014 season. This team is starting to believe in itself.

Now if only the results would follow in the win column.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins come into this weekend’s series as a bit of a surprise. Sitting in third place in the AL Central with a record of 16-13, they have defied all logic. It just goes to show that there is a reason why they play the games rather than assigning records based on what we think might happen. Yes, it’s possible we may have predicted this series to be a match up of the third and last place teams in the Central two months ago, but probably not in the present order. Go figure.

What might be more surprising, besides the Twins’ record, is the way in which the Twins are winning games. Many felt this would be a team that would struggle to score. After a month and a few days worth of the season, they have scored the 7th most runs in baseball and sit in the middle of the pack in most offensive statistical categories.

The problem for the Twins, however, continues to be the pitching staff. With the exception of closer Glen Perkins, no one on their staff jumps out as a must have arm. Phil Hughes is serviceable as a starter and Kyle Gibson is showing flashes of being a legitimately good starter, but no one else would make you worry as an opponent. Not on paper at least and the stats back it up. The Twins are in the bottom third for nearly every pitching category, which is surprising considering their pitcher friendly ball park.

What’s most terrifying about the Twins, though, is that they are only going to get better. As I have made mention of numerous times prior, the Twins’ farm system is loaded with top-level talent. It’s only a matter of time before those prospect makes it to the bigs and pull the Twins out of their current era of losing. You have to love the patient approach and stick-to-itiveness they have displayed. Not all organizations would be willing to endure the tough stretch the Twins have had since opening their new ball park.

In the meantime, this weekend’s series could prove an opportunity for the Indians to finally pull themselves completely out of their early season funk. A weaker opponent in your home ball park? How can you not like your odds? Let’s just hope that the hot hitting they have displayed as of late can stick around. If not, May could prove to be every bit as frustrating as April.

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Trevor Bauer (2-0) vs. Mike Pelfrey (2-0)

Bruce Chen (0-0) vs. Phil Hughes (1-4)

Danny Salazar (3-1) vs. Trevor May (2-2)

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