The St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins won the Central divisions in the National and American League respectively last season. Now they meet in a fun, high-stakes matchup that, dare it be said, could be a World Series preview?
If that's the case, though, it might not be a super suspenseful Fall Classic, considering the outcome of Tuesday's 6-3 Twins win. Minnesota put the game out of reach with a five-run second inning.
It'll be fascinating to see if the Cardinals can recover at Target Field. For a closer look at the action, dig in on abe Insights' betting breakdown, which provides key statistics to consider when wagering, analysis on how bets should trend, and the best odds across all the major sportsbooks.
Date: Wednesday, July 29
Time: 8:10 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports Midwest; Fox Sports North
Implied Probabilities: Cardinals 39%; Twins 63%
Spread: STL +1.5 (-120); MIN -1.5 (+110)
Moneyline: STL +155; MIN -170
It wasn't super fair of the Twins to add yet another power hitter in Josh Donaldson through a big free-agent contract to a largely intact lineup that just jacked an MLB-record 307 homers last season. Donaldson went 2-for-3 on Tuesday with his first dinger of the year.
An interesting element to Wednesday's game is the drastically difference in starting pitchers. Minnesota is scheduled to start 40-year-old veteran Rich Hill, who had a 4-1 record with a 2.45 ERA in 13 starts with the Dodgers last year.
St. Louis skipper Mike Shildt will have to show off his Manager of the Year chops again as he sends Daniel Ponce de Leon (25 big-league appearances, with 12 starts) to the mound.
1.75 vs. 1.49: When it came to base running runs above average (BsR) in 2019, only Arizona bettered the Cardinals. Thanks to their reliance on historic slugging, Minnesota didn't fare as well here (24th), and manufacturing runs on the base paths can is a small factor that can loom large in a tight contest.
44.3 vs. 36.2: These stats reveal the percentage of home runs that came from the top three hitters on each club this past season. Of course, the Cardinals were very top-heavy when it comes to dinger production, and Minnesota hit 97 more homers overall.
.304 vs. .288: The Twins yielded the 10th-highest batting average on balls in play during the 2019 campaign. St. Louis ranked eighth in that area, so the club isn't afraid to pitch to contact, even against the most formidable opposing batters.
What's fun about these teams is that they underscore how vastly different tactical philosophies can win at baseball's highest level. Minnesota takes its cuts and routinely goes yard; St. Louis grinds it out with timely hitting and stout defense.
Getting into a shootout in the Twin Cities isn't really a winning recipe for the visitors. That said, they could certainly use some big swings from Paul Goldschmidt, especially after losing one of their top power threats in Marcell Ozuna to Atlanta in the winter.
It's worth noting that Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz is on a torrid tear to begin the 2020 campaign, already logging 18 total bases, three homers and 10 of the team's 27 RBI. In other words, the All-MLB First Teamer is picking up right where he left off.
Given the deep stable of hitters in Minnesota's batting hierarchy and the lack of pop in St. Louis' bats, this seems like a mismatch. Then again, all it takes is a stolen base or a clutch hit to flip the momentum, and the Cardinals are adept as any club at that.
The data from TeamRankings.com shows St. Louis had a 33-20 record against the spread in 2019 as the road underdog. This makes the Cardinals +1.5 an extremely appealing option, even though all the momentum is going toward the Twins' moneyline.
That run total seemingly can't be too high for Minnesota to reach. One could argue the homer-hyper Twins are ready to crash back to earth, but until they do, wagers should hold steady on the Over 10 at least for Wednesday's action.
Note: Odds current as of 12:15 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 29.
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