Starter: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
Home Runs: Kepler (3), Avila (1)
Top 3 WPA: Dobnak .213, Rosario .106, Kepler .078
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):
Bats back up Dobnak’s solid start early
Minnesota sent out a lefty-filled lineup to try to get to Indians starter Mike Clevinger and it worked perfectly early on. Max Kepler started things off by once again hitting a leadoff home run, like he did a week ago in Chicago. Since homering twice that evening, he slumped pretty hard, going 2-for-17 in the following four games. Eddie Rosario smacked a two-RBI double later on, after Josh Donaldson and Nelson Cruz reached. He went way up to get that four-seamer and give the Twins a 3-0 lead.
Another lefty took Clevinger deep to leadoff an inning, as Alex Avila pounded a fastball inside to hit a 405-feet no doubter in the second, his first in a Twins uniform. The early push from the offense was in tune with Dobnak great performance. The rookie cruised through the first couple of innings, including a nine-pitch second. He did put a lot of work into getting through Francisco Lindor in the first, throwing eleven pitches before recording the out.
While Twins batters didn’t produce runs in the following two innings, they did manage to wear out Clevinger. The Indians starter was done after concluding the fourth, inning in which Minnesota drew three walks, two of them after two outs. Meanwhile, Dobnak did a great job keeping Cleveland scoreless through five, despite allowing some strong contact (his average exit velocity was 94.5 MPH). In fact, only three out of the thirteen balls in play he allow actually materialized into hits.
Indians relievers cool off Twins offense
The Twins failed to score in a couple of key moments in the middle of the game, against the Cleveland bullpen. They opened the fifth inning with back-to-back hits, including a leadoff double by Jorge Polanco, which were pitched around by Indians reliever Phil Maton. In the following inning Avila reached on a hit by pitch and was later advanced to third by a two-out double from Ehire Adrianza. However, Polanco flied out against Oliver Pérez.
Cam Hill pitched an easy 1-2-3 seventh for Cleveland, against the heart of Minnesota’s lineup, and Dominic Leone pitched around a walk from Luis Arráez in the eighth, completing the four-inning shutout by Cleveland bullpen.
Fortunately, the Twins bullpen responded accordingly. Tyler Clippard allowed an RBI-double from Franmil Reyes in the sixth, after a but he was followed up by a lights out 1-2-3 seventh from Tyler Duffey and a similarly great outing from Sergio Romo in the eighth, striking out two batters. Taylor Rogers came in and easily earned the save with five pitches.
Donaldson left the game early
Donaldson hit a single and scored a run in the first inning, but when he was supposed to bat again in the second, Adrianza was replacing him. Turns out he was pulled from the game for precautionary reasons, after presenting right calf tightness. While this doesn’t immediately sound like a serious problem, it’s important to remember that calf issues were the most serious injuries he had to face in his career.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
AS the Twins bounce back versus Clevinger, Twins Daily's writers celebrated. Watch it below, or download the podcast to be a part of the action You can also find Saturday night's gathering a PostgamePint.com.