Twins shrug off travel, blast Indians 10-0 in Central series opener
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Twins weren’t too tired to run around the bases.
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.
After flying from Minnesota to California and playing a doubleheader on Thursday, the Twins took a red-eye flight and didn’t arrive in Cleveland until 4:30 a.m. Friday. But they didn’t show any signs of fatigue and looked wide awake in winning the series opener.
“I guess they got a good day’s sleep,” cracked starter Randy Dobnak, who flew in a day earlier than his teammates. “I didn’t notice anybody being super tired.”
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 — and then the Twins poured it on in the fourth.
Triston McKenzie (1-3) helped the weary Twins with four walks in the inning 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.
“It was just the kind of effort you’re always looking to have and these types of games never get old,” Baldelli said. “This was a tough day. This is not an easy set of travel circumstances, lack of sleep right in the middle of a long stretch of games and the guys came out with a good plan and they were bombing tonight.
“The boys put some good swings on the ball.”
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.
“I feel like it’s been kind of a common theme in all my starts, the walks,” McKenzie said. “I feel like we worked on some delivery stuff leading up to this start, in between my previous starts, just trying to make sure everything stays consistent once I get out there.
“I feel like now it just comes down to a mindset thing and making sure I’m in the zone.”
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. Mejia, who made his major league debut and struck out five in 2 1/3 innings.
“He came in and threw strikes and he’s got really good two-seam movement and he can spin a breaking ball off of it,” Francona said. “In a kid’s first outing you’re never quite sure what the nerves will be. But he came in and threw strikes and with that movement, it gives him a chance. That was fun to watch.”
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.