Can the Minnesota Twins be the next team to officially clinch a playoff berth? Minnesota (31-22) is securely in the playoffs for the second straight year, marking the first time the team has reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons since doing so in three consecutive campaigns (2002-04), but the Twins' haven't officially clinched a spot and either needs a victory on Saturday night or a Detroit loss to Cleveland along with a Seatte loss to San Diego. Meanwhile, Chicago (31-20) is in a major fight with Atlanta (30-21) for the No. 2 seed in the NL. The Cubs, who are five and one-half games clear of both St. Louis and Cincinnati, have a magic number of six to officially clinch a playoff berth.
Chicago defeated Minnesota 1-0 in Game 1 of its three-game weekend series. The Cubs have now defeated the Twins in each of their last five meetings,although this is the first meeting between teams since 2018. The Cubbies lead the all-time series 18-13.
Pitching Matchup: Minnesota will send RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 3.57 ERA) to the mound while RHP Alec Mills (5-3, 3.93 ERA) will take the hill for Chicago.
Twins' bats silent in lossMinnesota suffered its second straight loss with a 1-0 loss to Chicago on Friday night as the Twins managed just three hits and only managed to get one player in scoring position. The Twins, who left four runners on base, also struck out 11 times and drew three walks. Byron Buxton (1-for-3, 1 walk) extended his hitting streak to a season-high-tying five straight games while Josh Donaldson (1-for-4) and Jake Cave (1-for-3) also collected hits. Catcher Mitch Garver went 0-for-3 with a pair of K's in his first action since Aug. 19. Starting pitcher Rich Hill (2-2) took the tough-luck loss as he threw seven strong innings, which was a season-high.
The loss was the Twins' fourth in five games and dropped their road record to 10-17 overall. Minnesota is averaging 4.3 runs and allowing 4.2 a game away from home. The Twins'offense has a road slash line of .238/.327/.419. Nelson Cruz, who is having arguably the best season of his career, is the only Twin (qualified) to hit at least .300 away from Target Field this year. Minnesota's pitching staff's road numbers include a 4.70 ERA, 1.37 OBA, and a .259 OBA.
Michael Pineda will make just his fourth start of the campaign on Saturday night. Pineda has thrown the ball well since making his debut at the beginning of the month though he did get dinged a little by the Cleveland Indians in his last start, allowing eight hits and three runs over four and two-thirds innings though he did tie his season-high with eight strikeouts in a 7-5 victory on Sunday. The 31-year-old right-hander is 1-0 on the campaign with a 3.57 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .250 OBA, and 1.61 FIP. His per nine-inning totals are 8.7 hits, 2.0 walks, and 10.9 strikeouts.
Pineda is 1-0 in two career starts against the Cubs as he has allowed just two runs and seven hits over 12 innings. He has pitched at Wrigley Field once before.
Chicago Looks To Match Season-High Winning StreakChicago is playing its best baseball of the season and looks to tie its season-high winning streak against Minnesota on Saturday. The Cubs earned their fifth straight victory as Kyle Hendricks had a masterful performance and his battery mate Wilson Contreras provided the lone offensive production early in the game.
Contreras, who is a scorching 21-for-57 (.368) in September, drove in Anthony Rizzo -- who drew a walk to open the frame -- with one of his two singles in the game in the first inning. Contreras and Kris Bryant (two) also drew a walk. Kyle Schwarber was the only other Cub to collect a hit as his sixth inning base knock was just his second in his last eight appearances --the 27-year-old has struck out nine times during this stretch.
The Cubs have won eight of 10 games and they have outscored their opponents 42-19 during this period. The Cubbies, who are 10-7 in one-run contests this year, have posted three shutouts during this stretch. Jason Kipnis, Cameron Maybin, and Nico Hoerner have been swinging the bat lately.
Alec Mills has a tough act to follow after his spectacular no-hit, becoming the 16th Cub to record a no-hitter, and three walk performance in his last outing. Mills completely dominated the Milwaukee Brewers last Sunday as he did not allow a runner in scoring position and struck out five in a 12-0 Cubs victory. The 28-year-old right-hander has now not permitted a run in 17 straight innings and has allowed just four hits in his last two games (15 frames). He is 5-3 on the season with a 3.93 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .204 OBA, and a 4.85 FIP. His per nine-inning stats totals are 6.7 hits, 1.4 home runs, 2.9 walks, and 6.3 strikeouts.
Mills is facing Minnesota for the first time ever. The fourth-year pro is 2-0 interleague play with a 1.93 ERA and 11 strikeouts over 14 innings of work.
The Cubs are:
- 5-0 in their last 5 overall.
- 4-0 in their last 4 after allowing 2 runs or less in their previous game.
- 4-0 in their last 4 games following a win.
- 4-0 in their last 4 interleague games vs. a team with a winning record.
- 4-0 in their last 4 interleague home games vs. a team with a winning record.
- 5-0 in their last 5 games on grass.
- 4-0 in their last 4 vs. a team with a winning record.
- 4-0 in their last 4 home games vs. a team with a winning record.
- 4-0 in their last 4 home games.
- 8-1 in their last 9 interleague home games vs. a right-handed starter.
- 5-1 in their last 6 home games vs. a right-handed starter.
- 4-1 in their last 5 games as an underdog.
- 4-1 in their last 5 games vs. a right-handed starter.
- 10-4 in their last 14 interleague games vs. a right-handed starter.
- 5-2 in their last 7 vs. American League Central.
- 36-17 in their last 53 interleague home games.
- 46-22 in their last 68 interleague games.
The Twins are:
- 0-6 in the last 6 meetings against the Cubs.
- 0-5 in the last 5 meetings against the Cubs in Chicago.
- 3-9 in their last 12 road games vs. a team with a winning record.
- 14-39 in their last 52 interleague road games vs. a team with a winning record.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I am going with the underdogs. The Cubs have been playing extremely well lately and have enjoyed the confines of Wrigley Field, winning four straight there and five of six at home overall. Mills has been excellent of late recording a 0.667 WHIP while also posting 11 strikeouts though he also has walked six. While Chicago's bats have scuffled this year, the Cubs have been better lately and against right-handers this year. Cameron Maybin, Jason Heyward, Jason Kipnis, and Ian Happ have had pretty good success against right-handers -- the Cubs are 24-17 against right-handers.
Prediction: Chicago +115
Full-Game Total Pick
I will take the under as this appears to be an excellent pitching matchup. Both teams have scuffled offensively particularly of late while both pitching staffs have been pretty good.