Twins’ position: The Twins were rained out of their game at Cleveland Tuesday, necessitating a doubleheader today that will start at 3:10 p.m. Although idled by the rain, the Twins gained ground on Houston, which had been in the lead for the second wild card spot entering the day. The Astros fell to Seattle 6-4 and fell behind the Los Angeles Angels, who defeated Oakland 8-1. The net result was that the Twins remained 1 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot. But now the Angels, not the Astros, lead in the race for that final playoff spot. Minnesota is a game behind the Astros. Although the Twins in essence treaded water in the race, a negative was pushing back Kyle Gibson’s start a day. Gibson had been in line to start Sunday’s regular-season finale, but that assignment now will fall to someone else. The most likely scenario will have Phil Hughes and Tommy Milone starting the final two games vs. Kansas City.
Twins games remaining: 6 (3 home, 3 road)
Games to watch today: 4
Playoff percentages: Here are the chances of each team making the postseason, from Baseball Prospectus.
Twins at Cleveland (3:10, 6:10 p.m., FSN): Here’s how significant today is for the Twins: If Minnesota wins two and the Angels and Astros each lose, the Twins will move into a wild card tie with the Angels. If Minnesota loses two and the Angels win, the Twins will be three games back with five to play and can start making plans for next season. The Twins face a couple of tough pitching matchups. Gibson (10-11, 3.96 ERA) will face Carlos Carrasco (14-11, 3.44 ERA) in the first game; Carrasco is coming off a one-hit, 15 strikeout victory over the Royals in his last outing while Gibson gave up six runs to Cleveland without getting out of the third inning in his last start. In the nightcap Mike Pelfrey (6-10, 4.09) will take on Cody Anderson (6-3, 3.31). Pelfrey will be a free agent at the end of the season, and unless the Twins play beyond Sunday’s regular-season finale this could well be his final start in a Twins uniform.
Oakland at L.A. Angels (6:05 p.m., no local TV): The Angels have won seven straight and 10 of their last 12 to move ahead of the Astros and Twins. The latest victory was 8-1 over Oakland Tuesday in which Nick Tropeano struck out 11 and gave up only three hits in 6 2/3 innings. The Angels will send Garrett Richards (15-11, 3.73) to the mound today against veteran lefty Barry Zito, who will be making his second start with the A’s after being signed as a free agent last offseason. Zito, the 2002 AL Cy Young winner with the A’s, has been plagued by arm trouble in recent seasons, spending most of this year in the minors with the A’s. The lefty was 8-7 with a 3.46 ERA at AAA Nashville this summer before being summoned to Oakland.
Houston at Seattle (9:10 p.m., no local TV): The Astros lost their wild card lead Tuesday night when they blew a 4-2 sixth-inning lead. Seattle’s Shawn O’Malley had a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth off ex-Twin Pat Neshek to win it. Neshek is 0-3 with an 8.53 ERA and two blown saves this month. The Astros will send Scott Kazmir (7-11, 2.97) to the mound today against a variety of Seattle relievers. Lefty James Paxton had been Seattle’s scheduled starter, but he’s likely out for the season and Seattle will turn the game over to its bullpen; as of Wednesday morning a starter had not been named. Kazmir has struggled of late, going 0-3 with a 5.68 ERA in his last six starts. Fatigue seems to be a factor; Kasmir struck out 8.5 batters per nine innings in August, but in five starts this month he’s averaging only 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings.
Detroit at Texas (7:05 p.m., no local TV): Texas still has a 2 game lead in the AL West, but nothing is certain because the Rangers close their season with a four-game series against the streaking Angels. Think about this: if the Twins win all their remaining games and the Angels win five straight, Minnesota will edge Texas for the final wild-card spot. Brace yourselves for a crazy final five days of the regular season. Texas will try to keep its edge today, sending Yovani Gallardo (12-11, 3.42) against the Tigers’ Matt Boyd (1-5, 6.91). Twins fans will remember Boyd as the pitcher last Friday who limited Minnesota to one hit in six innings, but yielded four runs, only two earned, getting a no-decision in an eventual 6-4 Detroit victory.
Twins' remaining schedule
Wednesday at Cleveland (doubleheader), 3:10 p.m.
Thursday at Cleveland, 6:10 p.m.
Friday vs. Kansas City, 7:10 p.m.
Saturday vs. Kansas City, 12:05 p.m.
Sunday vs. Kansas City, 2:10 p.m.
Houston's remaining schedule
Wednesday at Seattle, 9:10 p.m.
Friday at Arizona, 8:40 p.m.
Saturday at Arizona, 7:10 p.m.
Sunday at Arizona, 2:10 p.m.
L.A. Angles' remaining schedule
Wednesday vs. Oakland, 6:05 p.m.
Thursday at Texas, 7:05 p.m.
Friday at Texas, 7:05 p.m.
Saturday at Texas, 12:05 p.m.
Sunday at Texas, 2:05 p.m.