Ervin Santana vs. Josh Tomlin, 12:10 p.m.

Exactly one week ago, the Twins were 1 game back of the Indians. Now they are 0.5 games back of the Indians, and yet it seems like their season has been dramatically turned around.

Today's game will mark the end of a stretch of 10 games with 7 of them against the Indians. When it began, the Twins had a 2-game lead. If the Twins win today, they will have survived this stretch going 3-4 versus the Indians and will maintain a slim 0.5-game lead. If they lose, the Twins will fall 1.5-games back after going 2-5 versus the Indians.

Of course, after getting pounded at home by the Indians in a 4-game sweep last weekend, it seems almost miraculous that the Twins are in such a good position now, especially since their best player, Miguel Sano, has been sidelined these last 2 games with a sinus infection, and their best 2 starters, Jose Berrios and Ervin Santana, have yet to start in this stretch against the Indians.

Santana will end that today, which means the Twins finally have a favorable pitching matchup, at least on paper. Of course, pretty much the Twins' entire season shows there's a reason why this game isn't played on paper.

After a dominating April and a good May, Santana has struggled in June. Tomlin has an ERA over 6.00, so it looks to be a slugfest today. Then again, the last time these two pitchers faced off, Santana won 1-0 by pitching a 3-hitter.

The Twins will need Santana to go deep into the game because the bullpen was asked to pitch 8 1/3 innings total in the previous 2 games. Manager Paul Molitor will most likely want to avoid using Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers and I really want hit to avoid using Matt Belisle.

And I really, really want him to avoid using Chris Giminez in the outfield again, so here's hoping that at least one of Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler is feeling well enough to play today.

Everybody is back in the lineup:

Twins

Brian Dozier, 2B

Joe Mauer, 1B

Miguel Sano, DH

Max Kepler, RF

Eduardo Escobar, 3B

Eddie Rosario, LF

Jorge Polanco, SS

Jason Castro, C

Byron Buxton, CF

Indians

Francisco Lindor, SS

Jason Kipnis, 2B

Jose Ramirez, 3B

Edwin Encarnacion, DH

Carlos Santana, 1B

Lonnie Chisenhall, RF

Austin Jackson, LF

Bradley Zimmer, CF

Yan Gomes, C

Josh Tomlin, RHP

I like Castro, you guys.

What he said.

This game is going well with new MST3K

Mauer's BA is now highest on the team. His OPS still leaves something to be desired, but it's the highest since 2013.

I missed this, but DRS rates Buxton at +14. Combined with his positional value, +1, it completely negates his offensive contributions.

"contributions"

"offensive"

Coming into today, only 4 Twins have more rWAR than Buxton, who has 1.3. A 3-win season at age 23 is pretty good. fWAR doesn't like Buxton nearly as much, but he's still in positive territory. Berrios is already leading the Twins pitchers in fWAR (prior to Santana's start today).

Please Erv, finish

at leastsix!It wasn't pretty, but it worked out.

This series, Twins started went 15.2 innings and only gave up 1 run

The bullpen went 11.1 innings and the only 1 run allowed scored on Polanco's throwing error on an attempted double play.

*readies the brooms*

What isle are the brooms in?

Just take back the one from the Indians

Maryland.

Three Twins pitchers in today's game, including 6 scoreless by Big Erv, and yet his ERA is the highest

In this series, Cleveland had 21 hits and 10 walks--31 baserunners--and scored two runs. They stranded 30 runners, going 1-for-23 with men in scoring position (with the one being an infield single that did not produce a run).

The Twins had 23 hits and 7 walks--30 baserunners--and scored thirteen runs. They stranded 16 runners, going 4-for-22 with men in scoring position.

The Twins out-homered the Indians 4-1, however. The Indians had just 1 double in each game and no triples, so just 4 extra-base hits total in the series. Twins had 4 extra-base hits in today's game alone.

And the home runs obviously make a difference. But it's not easy to average over ten baserunners per game for three games and also average less than one run for those three games.