After the Cleveland Indians ran through a soft schedule to erase the division deficit, the Minnesota Twins are getting their turn at it.
From June 4 through July 24, the Cleveland Indians went 31-12 and reduced an 11.5 game deficit behind the Minnesota Twins in the AL Central to two games. Through the end of July, and the trade deadline, Cleveland went 34-14 over 48 games dating to June 4.
Over those 48 games, the Indians played the Detroit Tigers (10 games) and the Kansas City Royals (13 games) for nearly half of them with a 20-3 mark against them combined. The Twins were a shade above .500 through June and July (28-23), and watched their division lead go away.
With a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers over the weekend, the Twins are now 2.5 games clear of the Indians in the division race. Their next 12 games come against the Chicago White Sox (55-68 entering Monday) and the Tigers, while Cleveland plays the final three games of their seven-game road tour through New York starting Tuesday night against the Mets.
Via Baseball Reference, the Twins have the easiest remaining schedule in baseball with a .431 opponents’ winning percentage. The Indians have it only a little tougher, with a .480 opponents’ win percentage, a nod to the rest of the division being so bad.
Starting Monday night against the White Sox, the Twins will get 19 of their final 38 games at home with 12 total against playoff contenders (including six against the Indians) from here on out. The Indians have 16 of their final 37 at home, with 18 games against contenders. Narrowing to games not against the Twins, nine of Cleveland’s remaining 12 against playoff contenders will be on the road.
The Twins could give themselves a bit more breathing room over the next couple weeks, then really stretch the lead at home against the Indians from Sept. 6-8.
The Indians did what they needed to do in June and July, beating the bad teams on their slate in order to make it a real division race. Now it’s the Twins’ turn to get a soft, bottom-of-the-AL-Central-laden schedule, and as long as they deliver as they should the Indians simply won’t be able to stick around.