8:10 PM EST – Line: Yankees -109, Over/Under: 10.5
A potential Playoff Preview is on tap in Minneapolis, as the surging New York Yankees face off against the fading Minnesota Twins in a battle of Division Leaders from Target Field. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team in the American League that’s been hotter of late than the Yankees (64-33, 1st in A East), who have gone a stellar 25-6 since June 15th. As a result, they’ve vaulted up the Standings, overtaking tonight’s opponent, the Twins, whom they’ve established a rather comfortable Five-Game Lead. However, what’s made this recent run, or rather this entire campaign, so remarkable for New York, has been the fact that they’ve reached this point despite sustaining a slew of injuries to key personnel. Indeed, resiliency has been the key word when describing Aaron Boone’s charges, who have been without the services of their ace, Luis Severino (19-8, 3.39 ERA in 2018), for the entirety of the season with an inflamed Right Rotator Cuff and Grade Two Lateral Strain, while the likes of Didi Gregorius (.261 BA, 29 G, 31 H, 19 R, 3 2B, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 4 BB, 21 K), Aaron Judge (.297 BA, 42 G, 44 H, 30 R, 4 2B, 11 HR, 26 RBI, 32 BB, 54 K), and Giancarlo Stanton (.290 BA, 9 G, 9 H, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 7 BB, 13 K) have missed a combined 151 Games due to various injuries. For most teams, losing All-Stars such as these would be detrimental, but as we’ve seen over the years, the Yankees are NOT most teams, for few teams manage to stockpile talent like the Bronx Bombers. Furthermore, it’s been the Offense that has carried them to this point; New York ranks Second in the American League in Runs Scored (554), Third in Home Runs (162) and On-Base Percentage (.342), and Fourth in Batting Average (.267), Slugging Percentage (.465), and OPS (.807). Unheralded contributors have been key, with Luke Voit (.275 BA, 86 G, 88 H, 56 R, 14 2B, 18 HR, 52 RBI, 54 BB, 101 K), D.J. LeMahieu (.334 BA, 89 G, 124 H, 70 R, 22 2B, 13 HR, 67 RBI, 27 BB, 58 K), Gleyber Torres (.297 BA, 89 G, 98 H, 59 R, 13 2B, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 36 BB, 83 K), and Brett Gardner (.243 BA, 92 G, 76 H, 56 R, 13 2B, 15 HR, 41 RBI, 36 BB, 58 K) each enjoying excellent seasons, while All-Star Catcher, Gary Sanchez (.240 BA, 74 G, 68 H, 43 R, 9 2B, 24 HR, 58 RBI, 25 BB, 88 K), has been in MVP form throughout 2019. Of course, the flipside of the coin has been the Pitching Staff, which without Severino has been merely good thus far, though it remains to been seen if Management will be able to make the requisite additions by the Trade Deadline to augment a Starting Rotation that could certainly stand improvement. Taking the mound tonight will be C.C. Sabathia (5-4, 4.06 ERA, 15 GS, 82.0 IP, 79 H, 37 ER, 18 HR, 28 BB, 77 K, 1.305 WHIP), who in what has been presorted to be in final campaign in pinstripes, has been a dependable Starter at the back of the Rotation. A far cry from his Cy Young form of 2007, or 21-Win showing back in 2010 for that matter, the 38-Year Old has benefitted greatly from the Run Support granted by his teammates, particularly during their run over the past month; in his last Two Starts, Sabathia has gone 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA, yielding Nine Earned Runs on Twenty Hits, with Twenty-Seven Strikeouts in comparison to just Seven Walks, as opponents have batted just .125 against him. When we last saw him, the massive Lefthander failed to register a decision in the Yankees 8-3 victory over Division Rival, Tampa Bay Rays, allowing Three Earned Runs on Five Hits (including Two Homers) over the duration of 6.0 Innings, logging Six Strikeouts and Zero Walks.
Meanwhile, while their opponent as surged up the Standings over the past month, the Twins (59-38, 1st in AL Central) have been spiraling in the opposite direction, having seen their comfortable lead in the American League evolve into a growing deficit. It’s been a rather remarkable fall, folks, for back on June 15th, they were 47-22, but since that point have gone just 12-16. As a result, they now find themselves trailing the Yankees by Five Games in the Standings, while the Cleveland Indians of begun to threaten them in the Division, clinging to a waning Three-Game Lead. After a fantastic start to the season, the pressure is now on Rocco Baldelli, who Minnesota made the youngest Manager in the Majors during the Offseason. By and large, this team was able to get out to such a significant head start due to their prowess at the plate, or to be more specific, their collective ability to knock the ball out of the park; the Twins lead the Majors with 181 Home Runs thus far, and are on pace to hit a staggering 302 Homers, which would shatter the single-season record set by last year’s Yankees. Outfielders Max Kepler (.261 BA, 89 G, 93 H, 59 R, 22 2B, 23 HR, 60 RBI, 36 BB, 66 K) and Eddie Rosario (.283 BA, 80 G, 91 H, 53 R, 14 2B, 21 HR, 64 RBI, 15 BB, 45 K) have been the poster-boys of the Twins’ youth movement, while Jorge Polanco (.305 BA, 92 G, 118 H, 58 R, 26 2B, 5 3B, 13 HR, 44 RBI, 33 BB, 64 K) earned his first All-Star Selection at Shortstop. However, he like the rest of his teammates has gone cold in the month of July, batting just .220 with Thirteen Hits, including Three Doubles and a pair of Home Runs in Fifty-Nine At-Bats. Taking the mound tonight for the Twins will be Martin Perez (8-3, 4.10 ERA, 16 GS, 101.0 IP, 95 H, 46 ER, 8 HR, 41 BB, 89 K, 1.347 WHIP), who like the rest of his club, has undergone an inconsistent run over the past month. The Venezuelan International has seen just Two Decisions in his last Seven Starts, with Minnesota alternating Wins and Losses in those contests. After spending the first seven years of his career with the Texas Rangers, the Lefthander joined Baldelli’s revolution in Minneapolis as part of a revamped Starting Rotation that like their counterparts tonight, have been simply good, though far from great. That sentiment fits Perez perfectly; while he has been far from overpowering, posting a meager 2.17 K/BB Ratio, he’s gone out of his way to resist the Long-Ball, serving up an American League-low 0.7 Home Runs per Nine Innings. When we last saw him, the veteran put in a solid day’s work, relinquishing just One Earned Run on Five Hits in 6.0 Quality Innings, racking up Four Strikeouts and One Walk in a meeting with the New York Mets, only to see his comrades in the Bullpen collapse after his departure in an eventual 4-14 Loss. Over the course of his career, he has faced the Yankees on four occasions, going 2-2 with a dismal 9.68 ERA and 1.981 WHIP, permitting Nineteen Runs in 17.2 Innings.