After opening their four-game series with a split, the Minnesota Twins took the lead over the Cleveland Indians with a shut-out win in game three. Now, the two teams, who are among the best in the American League right now, will face off in the fourth and final game of the series today (2.10pm ET Sunday).
With a 60-game season, every game matters just a little bit more this year, so look for the Indians to try to split the series with a win, and the Twins to try to go 3-1 against their division rivals this year. Here we will preview the outcome of this Game 4 before giving our Cleveland Indians vs Minnesota Twins predictions against the online sportsbooks for bettors from America.
Game One Recap: CLE 2 MIN 0
With a 4-2 record, the Cleveland Indians entered their series against the Minnesota Twins, with the lead in the AL Central. In game one Cleveland lengthened that lead when they blanked the Twins at home, 2-0. The game was tied until the top of the third when Francisco Lindor hit his second home run of the year, plating Jose Ramirez as well to give the Indians the lead. It turned out that was all Cleveland needed. Behind the lights out pitching of Shane Bieber, who put in one of the best starts of the year for any pitcher (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R and 13 SO), the Indians cruised to their fifth win of the shortened 2020 campaign.
Game Two Recap: MIN 4 CLE 1
Wasting no time in getting on the board in game two, the Twins jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Indians in the bottom of the first inning before adding a fourth run in the bottom of the second. Thanks to six walks and nine hits, two of which were home runs by Max Kepler (tied for 6th in MLB with three) and Alex Avila, whose was his first of the season, the Twins evened the series at one game apiece.
Game Three Recap: MIN 3 CLE 0
Pitching was once again the story as the Twins matched the Indians in recording shut outs in this series. The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third at which point the Twins scored their first of three runs. They would add an additional run in each of the next two innings, doing so on just six hits (two of them were home runs) the whole game.
The shining star of the game came from the mound as right-handed pitcher Kenta Maeda pitched six scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and striking out six. In total, the Indians had just two hits as the Minnesota bullpen did their job, allowing no runs following Maeda’s strong start. The win allowed the Twins to climb over the Indians to take back the lead in the AL Central.
Game 4 Pitching Probables: (CLE) Aaron Civale vs (MIN) Tyler Clippard
Well this is an interesting one. With the series on the line in game four, the Indians will be sending Aaron Civale, who is set for his first full season with the big league club, up against Tyler Clippard, who is more known as a bullpen arm than a starter. Both pitchers are right-handed, something that looks to favor the Indians as they’ll take on Minnesota’s lefty-heavy lineup.
1-0 on the season, the 25-year-old Civale had a strong opening outing as he defeated the Chicago White Sox, allowing just two earned runs in six innings pitched. In his young career, Civale has faced several of Minnesota’s hitters, finding success. Notably, Twins’ Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano are all hitless against the righty in their prior 17 combined at-bats. Others such as Nelson Cruz, who is tied for the Twins’ lead in home runs with three, Josh Donaldson, and Byron Buxton, have all yet to face Civale, whose repertoire includes a cutter, sinking fastball that touches the mid 90s and slow curve. Civale’s breaking pitches have been strong this year and against Minnesota’s power lineup, he will certainly rely on them to keep the ball in the park.
Ten years Civale’s senior, the 35-year-old Clippard has made just 12 starts in his career. Known more as a bullpen arm, Clippard has enjoyed a successful career in the majors, though lately, he has become something of a journeyman. After spending 2007-14 with the Washington Nationals as their closer and set-up man, Clippard is now playing for his ninth team in the last five seasons. This year marks his first for the Twins and so far, he has been pitching well, holding a 2.25 ERA in his four appearances thus far. Today he will be making his first start since 2019, when he started three games for the Indians.
X-Factor: Twins and the Long Ball
Last year, the Minnesota Twins set the record for most home runs in a season with 307, which shattered the previous record of 267. That had been set by the New York Yankees in 2019. For longtime fans of the team, it is almost hard to believe as the Twins had lacked power bats for a long time and were hurt by the fact that they play in one of the league’s ‘hardest to hit home runs’ kind of park. Target Field has softened to hitters recently and the Twins have rebuilt their offense with power up and down the lineup.
While it would take a miracle for Minnesota to break their own record in the shortened 2020 season, the Twins still have a strong chance of ending the year as the team with the most balls hit into the stands. So far, the Twins are tied with their AL Central rivals, the Detroit Tigers, for the league-lead in home runs with 15. They will certainly have a chance to add to that total when they face Cleveland’s pitchers, who have allowed seven home runs in their first nine games, including four of which have come in the Twins’ series.