The Twins and Indians meet for the right to advance to the ALCS
Having failed to stay with the Minnesota Twins down the stretch of the AL Central race, the Cleveland Indians brushed aside the Chicago White Sox in the wild card game to earn the right to meet the Twins in the division series.
The Indians won the season series between the two teams 11-8. They led the division by three and one-half games at the All Star break. But the Twins overpowered all competition with a 46-18 post-break record, pulling away to win the AL Central by eight games with a 109-53 record.
There was no secret to the Twins’ success: it was raw power. Minnesota sluggers pounded out 331 home runs, a major league high. A half dozen Twins topped 35 home runs, led by Josh Donaldson (44), Miguel Sano (43), Nelson Cruz (42), and Mitch Garver (41). Eddie Rosario added 36 and Max Kepler 35.
Jake Odorizzi was 17-7 to lead the team in wins, while Jose Berrios, 3.00, had the best ERA.
Cleveland’s secret was its five-deep rotation. Mike Clevinger won the league ERA title at 2.40, while Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, Carlos Carrasco took turns mystifying most opposition batters. The Indians were also an exceptional 33-21 in one-run games and 14-8 in extra inning contests.
The Twins came into the series with some significant question marks. Left-hander Rich Hill went 12-3 but was sidelined with tendonitis in September and had to be left off the post-season roster. After clubbing 40 home runs through the season’s first half, Sano tired badly. He hit only four in August and September and was frequently benched.
The Indians faced problems of their own. In particular, third baseman Jose Ramirez fought nagging injuries that threatened to limit his effectiveness against the Twins.