Despite a late night flight to Cleveland after playing a doubleheader in Los Angeles against the Angels on Thursday, the Minnesota Twins showed no signs of tiredness or jetlag, knocking around an ineffective Triston McKenzie and Phil Maton between him in a nine-run fourth inning on the way to a 10-0 shutout of the Indians on Friday night.
There was little to talk about regarding the Indians’ performance. Randy Dobnak and two relievers shut down the lineup, with only a handful of threats presenting over the course of the evening. Dobnak allowed single base runners in the first and third innings on a hit and an error, but otherwise kept the bats contained.
By the time the Tribe began to post more legitimate threats, the game was out of hand. It began in the third, when Rob Refsnyder drove a 2-2 pitch to left for his first home run of the year, putting the Twins up 1-0 on the team’s first hit of the game. McKenzie set down the next three, striking out his third and fourth batters of the day after the Refsnyder dinger.
The Twins broke the game wide open in an ugly fourth inning, sending 13 men to the plate against three different Tribe pitchers. McKenzie lost all command of the strike zone, walking Max Kepler, giving up a 2-0 single to Alex Kirilloff, and walking Miguel Sano on four straight to load the bases. Trevor Larnach grounded the next pitch to first, but a throwing error on the back end of a double play allowed two men to score to make it a 3-0 game. McKenzie remained wild, walking Mitch Garver on four straight and putting on Refsnyder in a seven-pitch at bat to reload the bases. McKenzie was hooked for Maton, but the Twins teed off early and often against him. Andrelton Simmons scored a run on a first-pitch single to right. Luis Arraez reached on a fielder’s choice with Garver forced at home for the second out. Josh Donaldson drew a bases loaded walk after being behind in the count 0-2. Kepler, the tenth man to bat, plated a pair with a double to right. Kirilloff added two more with a single to left and Sano knocked him in with a double. J.C. Mejia, making his Major League debut, struck out Larnach to stop the onslaught.
The Indians had a handful of threats the rest of the way. Franmil Reyes walked and moved to third with one out on a single by Josh Naylor, but the pair were stranded as Luplow struck out looking and Jake Bauers grounded to short. In the fifth, Cesar Hernandez walked with two down and moved to third on a single by Eddie Rosario, but Jose Ramirez left them on base by grounding out to second.
Dobnak turned the game over to the bullpen after using a double play ball to get out of the sixth. Jorge Alcala pitched a perfect seventh, but Luke Farrell had a big of a situation to contend with in the eighth. E. Rosario singled with one out and pinch-runner Harold Ramirez motored to third on a double by Yu Chang, but Reyes struck out and Naylor grounded out. Farrrell retired the side in order in the ninth to mercifully end the ugly affair.
The Twins improved to 16-28 on the season and evened up the season set between the two clubs at 2-2. Both Twins wins have been ten-run performances. Cleveland is 23-19 on the year.
McKenzie’s up and down season continued as he once again lost the strike zone randomly during an outing. He allowed just two hits in three and one-third innings, but he walked five along the way to create ample scoring chances for the visiting Twins. He struck out four and was charged with six earned runs. Just 37 of his 72 pitches were good for strikes. Maton added four more earned runs of damage on four hits with a walk in just one-third of an inning.
Mejia’s debut was the highlight of the day for the Tribe and an encouraging appearance at that. He worked two and one-third innings, giving up a fluke hit while striking out five on 39 total pitches (25 strikes). Cal Quantrill and Trevor Stephan also pitched in relief for Cleveland.
Dobnak earned his first win of the season with six quality innings of three-hit shutout baseball. He struck out five and walked a pair.
Every Twins starter reached base safely via hit or walk. E. Rosario had two of Cleveland’s five hits on the night.
Shane Bieber will look to slow down the revived Twins bats on Saturday afternoon in a 4:10 PM ET first pitch. He will be opposed by Kenta Maeda, who has been battling groin soreness.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images