Twins would wrap up playoff spot with win over Indians (Sep 27, 2017)

CLEVELAND — The Minnesota Twins are so close to the postseason that they can’t wait to play their next game.

Minnesota’s magic number for claiming the American League’s second wild-card spot is one. A win Wednesday night over the Cleveland Indians or a loss by the Los Angeles Angels to the Chicago White Sox would send the Twins to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

“It’s all coming together for us,” Twins center fielder Byron Buxton said. “We’re playing great baseball. Now we’ve got to keep it going.”

The Twins (83-74) have won five games in a row and are one of the few teams that have been able to consistently beat the Indians at home. Although Minnesota is 7-10 against Cleveland overall, the Twins are 6-1 vs. the Indians at Progressive Field.

“We know them pretty well, and I think that helps,” Buxton said.

“We’re just trying to take care of business,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

So are the Indians. Although they have clinched the AL Central, they are trying to hold off the Houston Astros for the best record in the AL, and they haven’t given up hope of catching the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors.

Cleveland (98-59) is one game ahead of Houston (97-60) and 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers (101-57).

One of the ring leaders of the Indians’ offense is designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, who went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in an 8-6 loss to the Twins on Tuesday.

A free agent last winter, Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with Cleveland, and he has delivered.

With less than a week left in the season, Encarnacion is hitting a modest .258, but he has belted 38 home runs with 103 RBIs and 101 walks. He is the fifth player in Indians history with 100 RBIs and 100 walks in the same season. The last to do it was Travis Hafner in 2007.

“As long as he’s healthy, he’ll do that. It’s been fun to watch,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Danny Salazar (5-6, 4.48 ERA), who has had an injury-plagued season for the second year in a row, will start for Cleveland on Wednesday night.

He has made two trips to the disabled list, once for a sore shoulder and the other for elbow inflammation. In 18 starts, he is 5-6 with a 4.66 ERA. In four relief appearances, he has a 1.59 ERA.

Because of his inconsistent performances and injury history this year, Salazar is probably on the bubble for a spot on the Indians’ postseason roster.

He hasn’t won a game since Aug. 15, but it was an 8-1 victory over the Twins in which Salazar pitched seven innings, gave up one run on three hits and struck out 10 with no walks. He is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against Minnesota this year and 5-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 12 career starts against the Twins.

Salazar started Thursday at Anaheim, and he gave up one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Rookie left-hander Adalberto Mejia (4-6, 4.48 ERA) will start for the Twins.

Mejia has made two career starts vs. Cleveland, and they were back-to-back on June 17 and 23. In those outings, Mejia was 1-1 with a 1.86 ERA, giving up two home runs, seven hits and eight walks in 9 2/3 innings.

In his most recent outing, Mejia last just 4 2/3 innings Thursday at Detroit. He yielded one run on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

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