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Game Recap: Twins 10, Cleveland 0

The offense took care of this game with an amazing nine-run fourth inning. But perhaps the greatest story of the night for the Twins was the incredibly solid start from Randy Dobnak, who alongside the bullpen helped Minnesota to shut out the Cleveland in the series opener. The Twins win back-to-back games for the first time since May 3.

Box Score
Dobnak: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Home Runs: Refsnyder (1)
Top 3 WPA: Dobnak .170, Refsnyder .142, Kepler .071

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)


After seven unpleasant relief appearances that had him be optioned earlier this month, Randy Dobnak was called up from St. Paul this Friday to join the team in Cleveland. During his stint with the Saints, he had three starts, two of which were really solid, giving him a 3.38 ERA. From the looks of his outing tonight, the confidence he got from that Triple-A stint made all the difference.

It only took Dobber 38 pitches to get through the first three innings, in which he retired nine of the eleven batters he faced. He allowed only one hit, to José Ramírez in the first, but that was it. The only other Cleveland runner to reach in that span did so with the help of a Luis Arráez fielding error.

He missed bats quite nicely, causing Indian hitters to whiff four times. Also, he displayed an impressive improvement on his sinker, which touched 94mph on the radar gun. That’s nearly two miles per hour faster than the highest velocity he ever got from his two-seamer, back in 2019. At the top of the third, Rob Refsnyder hit his first home run as a Twin, to make it 1-0 Minnesota. That was home run number 60 for the Twins on the year, tying them for most in the American League with Boston.

His command started to slightly fail him late in the third, as he got behind in the count twice. Cesar Hernández reached on an Arráez error and old friend Eddie Rosario had the chance to put Cleveland ahead. The former Twin got ahead on the count, 2-0, which could potentially destabilize Dobnak. But Rosie’s trademark impatience had him grounding out to end the inning. Out of a potential jam, Dobber was about to receive an incredible welcome back to the majors gift.

The offense ambushes Cleveland pitching and scores nine runs in the fourth

Not even in his wildest dreams could Dobnak have asked for a better return to the majors. The Twins offense ganged up on Cleveland starter Triston McKenzie, loading the bases twice in the inning before he could record a second out. A couple of walks and a single in between to open the inning allowed Trevor Larnach to push two runs across on a groundout. Startled, McKenzie couldn’t find the zone anymore, allowing Mitch Garver and Refsnyder to walk and reload them up, with only one out.

McKenzie got pulled right there, but it was worthless. A single from Andrelton Simmons and a walk from Josh Donaldson and a double from Max Kepler scored four more runs against Cleveland reliever Phil Maton. Then, Alex Kirilloff joined the party.

The Twins weren’t done and Miguel Sanó doubled to score Kirilloff from second, making it 10-0 Twins. Minnesota nearly batted around twice in the inning and every Twin but Arráez and Larnach reached on either a single or a walk. This was the first time in almost four years that the Twins scored nine runs in one inning.

Now with substantial run support, Dobnak had the tranquility to go through the rest of his start unbothered. He wasn’t as sharp as in the first portion of the night, but he still delivered three scoreless innings, making this the third start of his career in which he pitched at least six innings without an earned run. The last time Dobber pitched at least six scoreless was on Aug. 5 of last year, against the Pirates. With the Twins rotation entering tonight’s game ranking dead last in the majors in fWAR during the month of May (-0.2), Dobnak just made his case for a permanent role in it. What do the Twins have to lose anyway?

Minnesota’s bullpen had yet another good performance on the week. Entering tonight, according to FanGraphs, Twins relievers had produced 0.3 fWAR in the previous seven days, while also striking out a league’s second-best 12.5 batters per nine. Jorge Alcalá and Luke Farrell took care of business in relief of Dobnak and retired nine of the final eleven batters they faced.

Postgame Interview

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

Stashak 0 35 0 19 0 54
Rogers 0 27 0 22 0 49
Farrell 0 0 0 0 38 38
Alcala 18 0 7 0 10 35
Colomé 0 19 15 0 0 34
Robles 0 17 0 14 0 31
Duffey 0 5 0 25 0 30
Thielbar 0 0 10 0 0 10


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I know "confidence" is 100% intangible and these are professionals so it shouldn't matter but...it does and it's impossible to measure how much.

I'm curious how much different the Twins bullpen would look right now if they'd had a few of these games early on, so the struggling pitchers (e.g. Colome, Duffy, even Dobnak) could have gotten back in their groove.

But that's what happens when you always put yourself in a hole.


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47 minutes ago, Danchat said:

Please replace Shoemaker with Dobnak... there's just no upside with Shoemaker. Dobnak might be able to at least be the #5 guy going forward (like they're paying him to be). His stuff had more life this time out, with some more Ks than usual. He's clearly better starting than coming out of the pen.

Agreed! I questioned this strategy right from the start. Dobnak seems to have the starter mojo.

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Happ and Shoemaker were horrible signings from the get go. The only question to me was, how much will it cost us, and not in money, but in games. Any pitcher can have a good streak, and this outing surely doens't make me change my mind about how many games Dobnak will cost us too, but it is nice to get a good start out of him.

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I really hope the Twins are done experimenting with Dobnak as a reliever. Dobbs has the stuff of a long-term starter. That sidepin sinker of his at 93 mph is killer. The ball curves and dips almost like Scott Erickson's high-speed screwball, but without the damaging arm action. It would be nice to see him add a high-zone four seamer to sprinkle in if hitters start using their golf swing.

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A nice start after a minor league stint. Let's hope he can keep it going. As for Shoe, I'm not a big fan but he can give us 3-4 good innings of long relief when needed. Hey, we took a flyer that he could return to a decent form and he has pitched ok for 3-4 innings before imploding in each start. He's not going to be a top starter anyway. As for Happ, he's done what was expected- 3-4 good starts and 2-3 not so good. A 10-10 season at best is about all we could have expected. Maeda and Berrios are bigger disappointments at this point based on what we expected.

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It was great to see Dobnak return to his starter role. I wasn't sure he'd return with that unshakable confidence after his misusuage at relieving, but he has. Dobnak is a starter, you have to give him the opportunity to win the game.

 Baldelli's excuse of not pitching Dobnak was that there was too many close games. That was EXACTLY the time to use the hot Dobnak, coming off a hot ST. That statement, showed a lack of confidence in Dobnak and misplaced confidence in a shaky BP, coming out of ST. If management had used Dobnak in those situations we wouldn't be in the hole that we are in.

Dobnak is not an ace, but he's a dependable ground ball pitcher. He's only as good as the infield that supports him. So to judge him you have throw the stats out the window. If you have Simmons in the game, you can usually depend on the offense to score a couple of runs and if the BP can hold and save games; we'll win games. I'd bet on it.

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Great seeing Dobber return and pitch like most of us know he can.  If a certain manager hadn't tried to make a reliever out of a young pitcher who has been a starter most of his life, we would have seen several games just like he pitched last night. 

Will they keep him in his starters role going forward?  If they don't, it will be further proof of mismanagement by this staff.  As for where he slots into the rotation, there are a couple obvious choices or even going to a six man rotation with the number of games they seem to be playing without off days.

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10 hours ago, jkcarew said:

This was a case of a highly resistible force (Cleveland’s offenses), running into a very movable object (Twins pitching). We won this battle of titans, but I wouldn’t draw too many favorable conclusions regarding Dobnak or the bullpen quite yet.

I had similar thought.  One game shutting down a bad offense does not turn us around.  The Twins will need to have some very good months going forward to be competitive down the stretch.  However, Nationals a couple years ago got off to bad start and eventually turned it around to make playoffs and win.  Not saying Twins will do it because we are in a deep hole already, but you never know what might happen. 

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2 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

How nice - love the Dobnak win, but think about Ober starting against a hitting team and Dobnak starting against a pitching team.  Luck of the draw.

Totally agree, Mike.  Along with the Twins pitchers putting up firestones inning after inning, seeing them score 9 runs without any home runs is a very welcome sight!

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