TWINS (98-60) AT TIGERS (46-111)
1:10 p.m. ET; FS-D, FSNO, MLB.TV
The Minnesota Twins had to wait to party. They’ll get precious few hours to recuperate after celebrating an American League Central championship before taking the field again.
The Indians’ 8-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox (+1.5) (+1.5) on Wednesday night assured the Twins of their first division title in nine seasons. Minnesota defeated Detroit 5-1 earlier in the evening, then hung around the visitors’ clubhouse at Comerica Park awaiting the outcome of the Cleveland game.
Minnesota (98-60) will complete the three-game series in Detroit on Thursday afternoon, probably with a lot of reserves in the lineup.
“Every win that gets us closer to our goal is meaningful to us,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said before the Indians game became official. “We have approached all of these games the same way. It’s gotten us to a good place. We’re very proud of the way we’ve performed and handled ourselves as a group to get to this point, and we don’t think we’re done.”
The Twins, who lost the 2017 American League wild-card game to the New York Yankees, haven’t entered the postseason as a division winner since 2010. They were swept in a best-of-five AL Division Series by the Yankees in both 2009 and 2010.
In each of the first two games of the series in Detroit, the Twins were blanked over the first six innings. They had a four-run seventh inning outburst in the first game, and they scored a combined five runs in the seventh and eighth innings on Wednesday. Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario blasted two-run homers in the latest triumph.
“We certainly had to work for it,” Baldelli said. “We had to find a way to make it happen.”
The Twins had not named a starting pitcher for Thursday’s game as of late Wednesday.
Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-12, 6.85 ERA) will make the final start of his nightmarish season for Detroit. His only victory in 22 starts came on July 29 against the Los Angeles Angels (+1.5) (+1.5).
He has been battered for 19 runs and 26 hits in 13 2/3 innings during his past three starts.
The White Sox clobbered him on Friday, piling up nine runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. Zimmermann has been brutal at Comerica Park, going 0-8 with a 7.88 ERA in 11 starts. Opponents are batting .359 against him in those outings.
He has made two starts this season against Minnesota, posting an 0-1 record and a 7.00 ERA. In 11 career starts vs. the Twins, he is 4-5 with a 6.47 ERA.
Zimmermann will hope for better run support after Detroit scored three runs total in the first two games of the series.
“They’re trying,” manager Ron Gardenhire said Wednesday of his hitters. “Their guy (starter Randy Dobnak) was a little funky tonight and he threw some funky pitches up there. They bring some big arms out of the bullpen that can spin the ball. We had one hit for a long time and one run, and we didn’t add on.”
The latest loss assured the Tigers (46-111) of getting the first pick in the June draft.
“We don’t really try to do that,” Gardenhire said. “I know some of our fans are thinking this is great, but we just try to go out and play. These guys are trying to get through this thing.”
–Field Level Media