8:10 PM EST – Line: Twins -119, Over/Under: 9.5
American League powerhouses meet tonight in Minneapolis, as the Boston Red Sox face the Minnesota Twins in their Series Finale from Target Field. After winning their Ninth World Series Championship, the Red Sox (39-34, 3rd in AL East) have plenty of work to do if they’re going to book another strip back to the Playoffs to properly defend their Title. Alex Cora’s charges currently sit in a tie with the Texas Rangers for the final Wild Card in the American League, while trailing the Tampa Bay Rays and their bitter rival New York Yankees by Four Games in the Division. After dropping five of six games at one point, Boston has since turned things around, rallying to string together five straight victories heading into this Series with the Twins. Indeed, a lot has changed since their disappointing 6-13 start to the campaign, with the Lineup carrying them over the past few months of play; the Red Sox rank First in the American League in both Hits (667) and Walks (290), and Third in Runs Sored (394), Doubles (198), Batting Average (.262), On-Base Percentage (.340), and OPS (.790). Even with a few injuries at the moment, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more balanced Lineup than this one featuring the likes of J.D. Martinez (.298 BA, 73 H, 41 R, 14 2B, 16 HR 39 RBI, 30 BB, 50 K), Xander Bogaerts (.298 BA, 79 H, 56 R, 21 2B, 14 HR, 47 RBI, 43 BB, 58 K), and Mookie Betts (.266 BA, 73 H, 54 R, 17 2B, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 53 BB, 46 K). The Pitching Staff has been a different story though, with the Rotation suffering greatly from a Bullpen that continues to struggle finding itself; Cora must be driving himself mad in an attempt to solve this issue, for his club rank Eleventh in the American League in Saves (15), routinely wasting solid performances from the likes of ace Chris Sale (3-7, 3.49 ERA, 90.1 IP, 67 H, 35 ER, 11 HR, 21 BB, 130 K, 0.974 WHIP). Heading to the mound tonight for the reigning World Series Champions is Eduardo Rodriguez (7-4, 4.67 ERA, 79.0 IP, 84 H, 41 ER, 11 HR, 22 BB, 84 K, 1.342 WHIP), the youngest member of their Starting Rotation. The 26-Year Old Venezuelan International served as a solid option at the back of their Rotation in 2018, though the Starting Group as a whole hasn’t been nearly as effective as they were a year ago. Granted, while they’ve ranked in the middle of the American League in most categories, there is still plenty of firepower to be found, for they rank tops in the league in Strikeouts (730), with Rodriguez certainly factoring into things, totaling Eighty-Four thus far and averaging 9.6 per Nine Innings. When we last saw him, the young Lefthander was busy shutting down the struggling Baltimore Orioles in a 13-2 thumping, in which he allowed one lone Run on Six Hits over the course of Seven strong Innings, fanning Four Batters and walking none. Furthermore, the month of June has seen him up his game significantly, sporting 3.44 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 18.1 Innings, with Eighteen strikeouts opposed to issuing Two Walks. Rodriguez has faced the Twins four occasions throughout his young career, going 1-1 with 3.91 ERA and 1.261 WHIP over 23.0 Innings, racking up Twenty-Five Strikeouts and Nine Walks.
Meanwhile, after racing out to the top record in the Majors, the Twins (47-23, 1st in AL Central) have cooled off a bit, though still maintain a considerable lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central, sitting ahead of them by Ten Games. In his first year on the job, Rocco Baldelli has done a masterful job of rejuvenating this Franchise, built upon a young core of players that have really taken off in 2019, particularly at the Plate where the Lineup has been on absolute FIRE. Minnesota ranks tops in the American League in a slew of categories, including Runs Scored (417), Doubles (152), Home Runs (137), Batting Average (.275), and Slugging Percentage (.515). Furthermore, their 417 Runs Scored and 137 Home Runs are the most at this point of the season since the Franchise moved to Minneapolis back in 1961, and are currently on pace to shatter their previous record for Home Runs, 225, which was set back in 1963. To give you an idea as to just how prolific they’ve been, the Twins are currently on pace to launch a staggering 317 Homers, which would easily vault them past the Single-Season Record of 267 belted by the New York Yankees a year ago. Seven different players have tagged at least Ten Home Runs, chief among them Eddie Rosario (.262 BA, 70 H, 47 R, 9 2B, 19 HR, 52 RBI, 14 BB, 42 K), who looks primed to be selected to his first All-Star Team. The 27-Year Old Puerto Rican International is on pace to set career-highs in both Home Runs (19) and RBIs (52), with a Slugging Percentage of .517. The Pitching Staff has been solid too, ranking Fourth in the American League in Team ERA (3.95), and Third in Home Runs Allowed (85) and Walks Allowed (198). Taking the mound tonight for the Twins is Kyle Gibson (7-3, 3.70 ERA, 75.1 IP, 71 H, 31 ER, 11 HR, 17 BB, 77 K, 1.168 WHIP), who along with many other members of the club, is the midst of a career campaign. In his seventh season with the Franchise, the 31-Year Old Righthander looks to really figured things out, which certainly doesn’t hurt when you’re receiving the wealth of Run Support that he and his fellow Starters have this season. throughout the first third of the 2019, Gibson’s control has improved greatly, allowing a career-best 2.0 Walks per Nine Innings (down from 3.6 in 2018), all the while logging a career-high 9.2 Strikeouts per Nine Innings (up from 8.2 in 2018), leading to stellar 4.53 Strikeout/Walk Ratio, which is (you guessed it) also a career-high. When we last saw him, he was brilliant in snuffing out the dismal Kansas City Royals in a 2-0 victory, in which he shut out the visiting side over the course of Eight Innings, permitting just Two Hits, while striking out Six Batters with Zero Walks. Gibson has faced the Red Sox six times throughout his career, going 2-3 with a 2.68 ERA and 0.893 WHIP, with Thirty Strikeouts opposed to just Eight Walks.