MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Kepler hit a two-run homer to support another strong start from Randy Dobnak, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 4-2 on Sunday.
Dobnak, the surprise right-hander who was promoted four levels last season before making a postseason start, continued his impressive run in 2020 with two runs allowed, both on solo homers, in 5 1/3 innings. Dobnak (4-1) gave up just three hits, while his ERA rose from a majors-best 0.90 to 1.42.
“This is just more of what we’ve seen,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve seen great outing after great outing.”
Alex Avila doubled, walked twice and scored a pair of runs for Minnesota, which has won four of six after being swept in Kansas City last week. Sergio Romo collected his third save.
Rookie Brady Singer (1-2) allowed three runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for the Royals. Hunter Dozier and Alex Gordon each hit solo home runs to give Kansas City a 2-0 lead after two innings.
After the game ended, the Royals bench was visibly upset and third base coach Vance Wilson was pointing and yelling. Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said the Twins were taunting his ball club, and some Royals took offense.
“I think what you’re seeing is the result of being able to hear everything each bench says,” Matheny said. “Can’t take emotions out of this game either and a little taunting to our sides and the boys didn’t like it a whole lot.”
Dobnak was undrafted, pitched in an independent league and was an Uber driver before his 2019 breakout. He entered Sunday’s game with just two runs allowed in 20 innings this season and had given up just one home run in 48 1/3 innings in the majors.
Dozier greeted him with a two-out, opposite-field homer in the first, and Gordon followed with another solo shot in the second. Dobnak retired the next 11 batters he faced.
“I was frustrated for like a split second and then I’m like, ‘OK, let’s keep moving on,’” Dobnak said. “I’m going to keep challenging guys. I’m not going to be afraid to throw any pitch at any time really. Results are going to vary, obviously, and the best to those two, I guess.”
Avila walked to start the third. He went to second on a wild pitch and third on a balk from Singer before scoring on a groundout. Avila walked again to start the fifth before Kepler hit his sixth homer of the year.
“It’s just one or two mistakes a game and I did that again,” Singer said. “I’m learning, I’m still learning each and every time, which is good. You’ve just got to obviously take away some of the mistakes. But other than that, I felt really good.”
Tyler Clippard relieved Dobnak with two runners on in the sixth. Dozier hit a sinking liner to left field that was snagged by Eddie Rosario. Rosario doubled off Whit Merrifield from second with the runners moving on the pitch to end the inning.
Minnesota relievers entered the day facing just nine inherited runners in 21 games. Only the St. Louis Cardinals, limited to seven games due to a coronavirus outbreak, had inherited fewer. Only one inherited runner has scored against Twins relievers this season.
Royals: C Salvador Pérez was scratched from the lineup before the game due to blurry vision in his left eye. … Right-hander Jakob Junis was placed on the injured list, retroactive to Aug. 13, with lower back spasms. Junis was scheduled to be the primary pitcher in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader but was scratched with back spasms and low back discomfort. C Meibrys Viloria was recalled and started Sunday in place of Pérez.
Twins: Baldelli said that LHP Rich Hill is likely to slot in one of the three games in the upcoming series against Milwaukee. Hill has been out since July 31 with left shoulder fatigue.
Rookie LHP Kris Bubic (0-2, 5.40 ERA) will start the series finale for Kansas City on Monday. Minnesota will use right-handed reliever Matt Wisler (0-1, 1.80) to start the game as an opener. Bubic, a first-round pick in 2018, will be making his fourth career start. He gave up five runs in five innings at Cincinnati in his previous outing.
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