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Cleveland Indians: Previewing the series in Minnesota

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(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /
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CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 02: Mike Clevinger #52 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Progressive Field on August 2, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – AUGUST 02: Mike Clevinger #52 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Progressive Field on August 2, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Indians will square up with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night, beginning a four-game series that could turn the tide in the AL Central.

Fresh off the heels of a much-needed doubleheader sweep over the Rangers, the Cleveland Indians will begin a pivotal four-game series at Target Field against the Minnesota Twins.

Even with a little over a month and a half left in the season, this series feels like it’s going to play a significant role in determining the final standings in the AL Central. If the Indians sweep, win, or split the series, we’re off to the races. A series loss keeps the Tribe fighting an uphill battle with several more difficult opponents looming in the second half of August.

What we’ll witness over the next four days is a duel between one of the league’s best offenses in Minnesota and one of the stingiest pitching staffs in Cleveland. It will be interesting to see which of these opposing strengths turns out to be the prevailing factor.

On the other hand, perhaps the winner of this series will be the team whose secondary formula for victory is on full display. The Twins’ bats versus the Tribe’s arms will surely be the focal point of the weekend, but what about the other way around?

For the season, the Twins own the ninth-best staff ERA in baseball at 4.12, while the Indians rank 18th in wRC+ at 93. Narrow these samples down to the beginning of June, and the Indians rank sixth in wRC+ at 107, while Minnesota’s pitching remains about the same with an 11th-ranked 4.33 ERA.

These position groups will have just as much to say about the end result of this series as their more heralded teammates. It’s going to be an exciting weekend. Let’s scout out the team standing in the Indians’ way of a fourth consecutive division title.

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