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MIN 4, KCR 2: Pitching, Defense & Overall Execution Shine in Twins Victory

The Minnesota Twins established an identity as the Bomba Squad last season, but the club’s ability to execute the finer points was on display during a 4-2 victory Sunday. The Twins dazzled in the field and successfully executed a safety squeeze.

Box Score

Dobnak: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Home Runs: Kepler (6)

Top 3 WPA: Avila .201, Kepler .197, Clippard .143

Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs):

The Minnesota Twins used a mixture of solid pitching and timely hitting on Sunday afternoon to put together a solid all-around win and clinch at least a split-series against the Kansas City Royal.

The Royals were the first team to get on the scoreboard in Sunday’s matchup, pushing across solo home runs from Hunter Dozier and Alex Gordon in the 1st and 2nd innings, respectively, to take an early 2-0 lead on the Minnesota Twins. After the second Royals’ home run, though, Randy Dobank found his groove, retiring the following 11 consecutive batters, including 1-2-3 innings in the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings.

After not getting much run support through the first four innings of the game, Max Kepler came through by crushing a 395-foot two-run blast off of Brady Singer to give the Minnesota Twins a 3-2 lead in the game

In the 6th inning Dobnak was pulled after running into trouble, with Tyler Clippard entering the game with runners on 1st and 2nd with one out. Clippard only needed to face one batter to get out of the jam, though, as Eddie Rosario made an outstanding sliding catch in left field followed by an outfield assist to convert a double play and end the inning damage-free.

The Twins tacked on an insurance run in a fashion that you don’t typically see from the Bomba Squad, converting a safety squeeze in the bottom of the 7th inning when Jorge Polanco’s bunt brought home newly acquired Minnesota Twin, Ildemaro Vargas, who was pinch-running for Alex Avila.

From there, the Minnesota Twins bullpen was lights-out, taking away any potential drama of a comeback. After Clippard got out of the jam in the 6th, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers and Sergio Romo each threw scoreless innings, securing a 4-2 win for the Minnesota Twins.

Additional notes:

Dobnak Stays Solid

After José Berríos struggled with his command in yesterday’s loss, it was another solid showing for the ever-steady Randy Dobnak today. Randy allowed two runs in 5.1 innings on 74 pitches. Dobnak once again found success by throwing strikes, tossing 65% of his pitches for strikes and only allowing one base on balls. The only mistakes that Dobnak made was throwing two elevated sinkers that each went for home runs. Randy Dobnak is now 4-1 on the season with a 1.42 ERA, 5th lowest in Majors.

Another Impressive Showing from the Defense

One of the biggest stories for the 2020 Minnesota Twins has been the improvement that they have made in the field. Their fielding prowess was once again on display in Sunday’s victory. In addition to Eddie Rosario’s excellent sliding catch in the 5th inning, the Twins got a great play at 3rd base by Marwin Gonzalez in the 1st inning, an excellent back-handed block by Alex Avila and of course, the unforgettable double play turned by the middle infielders, Jorge Polanco and Luis Arráez. Entering the season, it was assumed that the fielding of the Twins was going to be a net negative, as Polanco, Arráez, Rosario and Sanó are all known much more for their bats than their gloves. As each game passes and the sample size grows larger and larger, though, this defense looks absolutely legit, with just 2 errors through 22 games. The most amazing part is they are still without their best infielder defender, in Josh Donaldson.

Catcher Controversy?

It was yet another extremely impressive showing from Alex Avila behind the plate today for the Minnesota Twins. The catcher reached on all three of his plate appearances today, converting a single and two walks. Avila now has an on-base percentage of .457 and has shown nothing but an excellent approach and tremendous patience at the plate as well as stellar defense. With the early season struggles that we have seen from Mitch Garver, it will be fascinating to see if Rocco Baldelli shifts the playing time split at all between his two catchers. To this point, the catching timeshare split has been 60/40 in favor of Garver, could we see that inch more towards 50/50 moving forward?

The Minnesota Twins record now stands at 14-8 and the Twins will look to take a 3-1 series win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday at 7:10pm in a bullpen game, with Matt Wisler starting for the reigning AL Central Champs. Below you can see a look at where the bullpen stands ahead of tomorrow's game, as many of those pitchers will need to be relied upon in the series finale.

Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

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