No AL team has won more games against their division opponents than the Minnesota Twins. If they can keep playing well against the AL Central over the next two weeks, they may wind up as the division champions.
The Twins will play nine of their final 13 games against the Central, a stretch they'll kick off on Monday when they play the first of three on the road against the Cleveland Indians.Minnesota (82-67) has gone 39-24 against the Central this season, a large reason it's in a tight race with the Chicago White Sox for the division lead with just two weeks left in the season.Though the Twins are just 7-8 against the White Sox, they've taken advantage of games with the Central's bottom three teams. They're 32-16 against Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City. They're 10-5 against the Indians (72-77), and they've won four of their last five in the series primarily due to pitching.Minnesota's starters are 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in their last five starts versus Cleveland.Kevin Slowey (12-9, 3.63 ERA) will be on the mound for the Twins in the opener, and he'll be looking to build on a series of impressive starts. Slowey is 5-1 with a 2.27 ERA in seven starts since Aug. 8, and he went seven innings on Wednesday, allowing four hits and a run in a 7-1 win over Kansas City."We're able to just kind of go out there and pitch, and enjoy ourselves and enjoy each other's company," said Slowey, who's 6-3 with a 4.48 ERA against the AL Central. "Do our best and not look toward three weeks down the line and whether we're going to make the playoffs."Slowey hasn't looked great against Cleveland. He's faced the Indians twice, allowing five runs in six innings each time while going 1-1.After six in a row against the Central, the Twins traveled to Baltimore over the weekend. The opener Friday was postponed by rain, but Minnesota put up 12 runs apiece in sweeping Saturday's doubleheader, led by five hits and four RBIs from Justin Morneau. Morneau went 0-for-3 on Sunday, though, and the Twins couldn't muster a run until the ninth, losing the finale 7-3."Won the series here, two out of three," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We'll go to Cleveland and see if we can get a good start there on Monday and go from there."The Indians were one of the few teams in the AL to not have weather affect its series over the weekend. But after a 12-5 win on Friday over Kansas City, Cleveland lost the final three games, including a previously scheduled doubleheader Saturday, getting outscored 29-10. The Indians scored three in the first inning Sunday but didn't score again, losing 13-3."They were seeing the ball good the whole series and you run into teams like that sometimes," said starter Jeremy Sowers, who lasted just three innings in the finale.Scott Lewis (1-0, 0.00) will be making his second major league start for the Indians, and he'll have a hard time topping his first. The rookie left-hander pitched eight shutout innings, allowing three hits on Wednesday at Baltimore in a 7-1 win."He had some presence and pitched with confidence and poise," manager Eric Wedge said. "He commanded the ballgame. That's what you like to see anytime, much less somebody going out there for their first start."Texas is the only AL team with more RBIs against left-handers than Minnesota's 227.