The Minnesota Twins could be celebrating an American League Central Division championship on Wednesday if everything breaks their way.
The Twins reduced their magic number to two on Tuesday with a 4-2 road victory over the Detroit Tigers. They could clinch the division with another victory over the Tigers on Wednesday and a Cleveland loss to the Chicago White Sox.
“We’re ready for it,” outfielder Jake Cave said in a postgame TV interview. “We’re just going to come to the field and do our thing.”
However, the Twins might have to wait around to celebrate. The Indians game starts 90 minutes later.
The Twins’ latest victory didn’t feature any long balls. They were shut out until the seventh, when they pushed across all of their runs. Willians Astudillo, inserted into the lineup after Marwin Gonzalez was scratched due to oblique tightness, had the go-ahead two-run single.
“We totally expect the guys that we have slotted in there are going to compete and play well,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “They’re talented, they have their own skill sets that they bring to the table. Even if it’s not our regular lineup that we’ve rolled out there all year long, we have guys that can get the job done.”
Rookie right-hander Randy Dobnak (1-1, 2.01 ERA) will make his fifth start for Minnesota on Wednesday and first against Detroit. He held Cleveland to one run and three hits in 5 1/3 innings on Friday while collecting his first career victory. In his only appearance against Detroit, he gave up two hits but struck out three to post a scoreless inning.
Left-hander Daniel Norris will start for the Tigers. He was placed on a three-innings limit in mid-August and has gone exactly that amount in his last eight starts.
Norris (3-13, 4.58 ERA) has limited the opposition to one or no runs in six of his last seven abbreviated starts. He gave up one run to Cleveland on Thursday.
He’s 2-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven career outings against the Twins.
Right-hander Drew VerHagen (4-2, 5.87 ERA) has often replaced Norris in these shortened starts. He was roughed up for six runs in 1 1/3 innings by the Indians on Thursday.
He made a spot start against the Twins on Aug. 23 and collected a win while striking out 11 in a 9-6 victory.
Tigers designated hitter Miguel Cabrera missed his third consecutive game due to knee soreness. He’s hopeful he can play at least one of the remaining two games in the series.
“That’s a conversation I am going to have with Miggy,” manager Ron Gardenhire said about the possibility of shutting down Cabrera for the season. “I’ve had that conversation with Al (general manager Al Avila), and he said it’s whatever (Cabrera) wants to do. It’s not on me. If he wants to play in some games, fine. If he wants to just stay here and not play — that’s going to be up to him.”
–Field Level Media