The Minnesota Twins travel to Progressive Field, Cleveland to take on the Guardians on the back of a 2-1 series win over the Colorado Rockies to keep them just ahead of Cleveland in the American League Central.
These two sides are set to start a five-game series which may see the lead at the top of the Division change hands on several occasions.
|What||Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Guardians, Game one of five|
|Where||Progessive Field, Cleveland, Ohio|
|When||00:10, Tuesday 28th June|
|How to watch||MLB.TV|
|Odds||Minnesota Twins 4/5, Cleveland Guardians 21/20|
All of this should still keep the Chicago White Sox interested as the Southsiders' hope that the top two beat up on each other and drop games.
The White Sox will still need to take advantage and win their games against the Los Angeles Angels to make a difference.
Both of these two sides come into the series with five wins and five losses from their last 10 games. The Guardians, though, have just been swept at home by the Boston Red Sox to lose their last four games in a row. The Twins have been a little more consistent, winning three out of their last four games to give them a two game advantage at the top of the AL Central Division.
There was a sense of frustration for Guardians team manager Terry Francona following the home sweep by the Red Sox. He knows what his side is capable of and for them not to produce that in front of their own fans following road series wins over the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Twins, is an obstacle they need to overturn.
Speaking to the official Guardians website, Francona said: "We need to make the plays against their (Boston) lineup. They hit the ball pretty hard today."
There is a lack of experience in the Cleveland lineup at the moment, especially at first base. Coming into their last game, the Guardians had made seven errors from their first baseman, which was tied as the worst in the Majors. Defensively overall, they have been ok, but they may make a trade for an experienced first baseman by the trade deadline.
Last week the Minnesota bullpen crumbled against Cleveland, the offence supplied leads in two out of the three games and the bullpen gave up leads, which could have led to the Twins sweeping the Guardians and moving further ahead in the Division. It wasn't to be, and a further warning to Rocco Baldelli's side, that the Guardians are not going down without a fight.
However, the bullpen prevailed in the Twins' 6-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday and that may have placated some concerns from the fans and front office, in case Minnesota wanted to bolster their pen at the trade deadline, if the bullpen continues it's good form, they may not need to.
This season both sides have won three games, with Cleveland winning the series recently in Minnesota, the Twins will be hoping to gain a huge advantage in this five-game series, which includes a double-header on Tuesday.
Minnesota have won their last two seasons overall against Cleveland, but the Guardians hold the most wins historically (1173-1037).
In game one, Minnesota will have Sonny Gray pitching - he last pitched against the Guardians on 22nd June - reaching a no-decision. In four innings, he gave up eight hits and three earned runs, striking out four. Overall this season he has a 3-1 record in 42.2 innings pitched with a 2.53 ERA.
Gray joined the Twins in the offseason after the Cincinnati Reds traded him with Francis Peguero in exchange for Chase Petty.
Cleveland will have Triston McKenzie on the mound. The 24-year-old last pitched against the Twins and went 4.1 innings with a no-decision, giving up six earned runs, with five strikeouts. McKenzie has a 4-5 record with a 3.51 ERA in 2022.
McKenzie was born in Brooklyn, New York and made his debut for the Guardians in 2020 against the Detroit Tigers. He was in the starting rotation for the 2021 season before being demoted twice throughout the season.
This is going to be a tight series, Minnesota may edge it, purely on their experience alone, but Cleveland's young guns will give them a run for their money.