MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Kepler hit his second leadoff home run of the season, Alex Avila added his first homer for Minnesota, and the Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 4-1 on Friday night.
Randy Dobnak (1-1) pitched five scoreless innings for Minnesota following a day of COVID-19 testing and uncertainty due to two positive tests by the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis had two players test positive on Friday after playing two games in Minnesota earlier in the week. The teams went through rapid testing and the visiting clubhouse underwent another round of cleaning before the determination was made at 3:30 p.m. Central to keep Friday’s game as scheduled.
“Our guys took a difficult situation,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “They were able to focus. They were able to lock in and it makes what happened today out on the field even more impressive. To watch a group able to go out there and play baseball when there are definitely some other things on their mind, the group doesn’t surprise me anymore.”
Mike Clevinger (0-1) allowed four runs in four innings for Cleveland, which ended its streak of seven straight starts by pitchers throwing at least six innings with two runs or fewer.
“I just kept it in my head that we were going to play,” Clevinger said of preparing for his start. “I never let that creep up. We’re playing until they officially kill it. It’s kind of the same mindset you keep in a rain delay.”
Clevinger gave up six hits and walked five. He threw just 47 of his 88 pitches for strikes.
“A lot of deep counts. I think he’s still trying to feel his body,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Clevinger, who had knee surgery in February. “By that, probably his legs. Just weren’t really where he was trying to locate. I give him credit, he battled.”
Kepler, who led off the season with a home run against the Chicago White Sox, started a three-run first inning with his third homer of the year. Eddie Rosario added a pair of hits, including a two-run double in the first. The Twins have scored 12 runs in the first inning in their seven games this season.
Dobnak made his second straight strong start in place of the injured Jake Odorizzi. He surrendered three hits and two walks and has given up just one run in nine innings this season. Taylor Rogers finished off his second save of the season.
A LONG DAY
Both teams heard of the positive tests for St. Louis in the morning and started protocols for testing. Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s chief baseball officer who had previously been in the Cleveland organization, also reached out to the Indians with the cleaning logs for the visiting clubhouse.
“What we did was we gathered all the cleaning, the actual schedule of our cleaning,” Falvey said before the game. “Exactly what we did for each day for the Cardinals series, up and through, really, last night and what had been done at each juncture, and gave them that log, and getting down to the detail of what was sprayed, what kind of products were used, how it was wiped down, all of those things, just to make sure they felt they had complete information. I would like the same if we were on the road and we were dealing with the same problem.”
Indians: Francona said OF Delino DeShields was scheduled to participate in the intrasquad game at the team’s alternate site and then try to “simulate another one or two after that” as he makes his way back after testing positive for COVID-19.
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson left the game in the second inning with right calf tightness. Baldelli said he wouldn’t consider the injury to be a major issue but Donaldson is considered day to day.
RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 3.00 ERA) will start for Cleveland on Saturday and be opposed by RHP Kenta Maeda (1-0, 3.60), who will make his home debut for Minnesota. Carrasco struck out 10 batters in six innings in a win against Kansas City in his season debut. Maeda allowed two runs and four hits in five innings against the White Sox in his first outing.
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