Twins shrug off travel, blast Indians 10-0 in series opener
Max Kepler and rookie Alex Kirilloff drove in two runs apiece in Minnesota’s nine-run fourth inning and the Twins shook off a couple long days of cross-country travel by pounding the Cleveland Indians 10-0 on Friday night.
The Twins didn’t arrive in Cleveland until 4:30 a.m. after flying back from California following a doubleheader in Anaheim on Thursday. But they didn’t show any signs of fatigue and looked wide awake in winning the series opener.
Randy Dobnak (1-3) was the beneficiary of the Twins’ biggest inning this season and won his first start after being recalled from Triple-A St. Paul. The right-hander began the season in Minnesota’s bullpen before being demoted on May 3.
Dobnak, who worked as an Uber driver before making it to the big leagues in 2019, allowed just three hits in six innings.
Rob Refsnyder homered for Minnesota’s first run.
Triston McKenzie (1-3) helped the weary Twins with four walks in the fourth before he was mercifully pulled by Indians manager Terry Francona. Reliever Phil Maton, however, wasn’t much better as Kepler hit a two-run double and Kirilloff, who came off the injured list earlier in the day, singled home a pair as Minnesota opened a 10-run lead.
The Indians also committed their first error since May 12 — a span of nine games — to aid the Twins in the fourth.
The night began on an ominous note for the Twins, who have been dealing with injuries all season. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz was scratched with a bruised wrist, forcing manager Rocco Baldelli to rearrange his starting lineup.
The one he came up with worked out just fine.
McKenzie’s continued problems with his control are becoming a concern for the Indians. The right-hander has has walked 30 in 31 1/3 innings and he has yet to pitch more than five innings.
Refsnyder’s first homer this season gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the third.
He drove a 2-2 pitch over the head of Indians left fielder Eddie Rosario, who barely moved a muscle as the ball sailed above him and over the wall.
Like one of the hitters he overpowers, Indians reliever James Karinchak has blown away Francona with his quick development.
The 25-year-old right-hander entered the series with a 0.47 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings.
“He has been a weapon,” Francona said. "My goodness. His numbers are silly and we probably nitpick so much, and we worry when he goes 3-2 on a lot of people. But there’s not a lot of walks and there’s certainly not a lot of hits.
"I know the board will say 96-97 (mph), but I think it profiles better than that and his breaking ball is filthy. And he competes like crazy. He’s fun to watch, man.”
One bright spot for the Indians was rookie J.C. Mejía, who made his major league debut and struck out five in 2 1/3 innings.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (hip) still isn’t sprinting. And while he’s made progress, Baldelli said it could be a while before Buxton, who has been out since May 7, is ready to return from a “very legitimate hip issue.” … INF Jorge Polanco sat out with an ankle issue that flared up earlier in the week and forced him to exit Game 2 against the Angels early. … Kirilloff missed the last 16 games with a right wrist sprain.
Indians: OF Jordan Luplow was back in the lineup after missing two games with a sprained left ankle. He went 0 for 4.
Indians ace Shane Bieber (4-3) went just 4 2/3 innings in his last start. He’ll face Twins RHP Kenta Maeda (2-2), who pitched through groin soreness on Sunday against Oakland.