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MLB Tipsheet: Top pitchers set for battle in Minnesota

Nelson Cruz could be the key in a tight game against Atlanta
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With two thirds of the season in the books, baseball enters the home straight in the race to the playoffs. Ben Steele previews tonight's biggest games.

"Veteran hitter Nelson Cruz has hit eight home runs in his last eight games, and is the hottest hitter in baseball right now."

Lyles hopes to haunt former team

Milwaukee Brewers @ Pittsburgh Pirates
Tuesday 00:05 BST

Reigning MVP Christian Yelich will be the main attraction, but not the main storyline, as the Milwaukee Brewers face the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight. Jordan Lyles will make his second start for Milwaukee, just a week after being traded to the Brewers by Pittsburgh. Lyles has had an average 2019 season so far and comes in to tonight's game knowing he may not get a lot of run support; Yelich aside, the Brewers batting lineup have struggled in recent games scoring just three runs in a three game series with Chicago over the weekend and failed to post a significant score in their last seven games. With Lyles motivated against his former team and the Brewers batting lineup struggling, look for a low scoring game in Pittsburgh.

Morton more than enough for Toronto

Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays
Tuesday 00:10 BST

Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays will expect to win tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays as he continues his stellar 2019. Morton, a 35-year-old from New Jersey, is posting a career best ERA of 2.78 and has already won 12 games, buoyed by an impressive 6-1 record at home this season. Tonight's opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays are 45-69 and come in to the game off the back of two losses to the Baltimore Orioles. Morton should comfortably be able to deal with the Toronto lineup but he may not get much backing from his teammates either.

Depiste being in the playoff hunt, Tampa Bay hitters have averaged just 4.7 runs per game this season. It is their pitching that has dragged them in to the race and it will be their pitching that wins them the game tonight as well.

Runs will be scarce for Twins and Braves

Atlanta Braves @ Minnesota Twins
Tuesday 01:10 BST

A real pitchers duel is on the horizon in Minnesota tonight as Atlanta Braves ace Mike Soroka aims to continue his brilliant season against Jake Odorizzi and the Minnesota Twins. The two starters have 22 combined wins this season and both have ERAs below 4.00, so runs will certainly be at a premium tonight. That could give the home team the edge. Veteran hitter Nelson Cruz has hit eight home runs in his last eight games, and is the hottest hitter in baseball right now. The 39-year-old will have his work cut out against Soroka, who has only given up seven homers in his career, but the threat he poses will give Atlanta problems. Expect a low scoring game with both pitchers dominating, but the Twins will be slight favourites thanks to Cruz.

Ben Steele,

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