The Minnesota Twins will be on a mission when they host the Kansas City Royals for a three-game series this weekend.
The Twins, who were in last place in the American League Central earlier this week, could move a half-game behind the Royals should they sweep their division foe.
Third place was not the Twins’ goal entering the 2021 season. They won the division in each of the past two seasons and expected to be in the mix at the top again, but things haven’t gone their way.
A sweep of their most recent opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, helped their cause. And Friday, Minnesota will send right-hander Randy Dobnak (1-3, 5.75 ERA) to the mound against left-hander Kris Bubic (0-0, 1.52) as the Twins try to maintain the momentum.
Dobnak made seven appearances out of the bullpen before being optioned to Triple-A St. Paul on May 3 and was recalled in time to start May 21 against the Cleveland Indians. He threw six scoreless innings in Cleveland and allowed just three hits and walked two as he picked up the win.
“I mean it was awesome, obviously,” Dobnak said after that start. “I kind of just had [it]. It’s always a good day when you can kind of locate your pitches wherever you want them to, no matter the count, really. So I had that working for me early on and kind of just rolled with that. We had a simple game plan and we stuck to it.”
Dobnak is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA all-time against the Royals.
The Royals are coming off a series against the Tampa Bay Rays in which they scored just five runs. They snapped the Rays’ 11-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Tuesday, but they lost by the same score in extra innings on Wednesday and got crushed 7-2 Thursday.
“I was happy with the way guys approached the game,” Royals right fielder Whit Merrifield said. “We all had our game plans. We were playing a good team with a good staff. Credit to them, they just played better than we did.
“We’ve come a long ways from a couple of years ago. That would have been ugly from the get-go a couple of years ago. We’re getting there.”
Bubic has been a pleasant surprise since he joined the Royals during their last visit to the Twin Cities in early May. He allowed two runs in his season debut against the Twins on May 2, then made four scoreless outings before giving up two runs in five innings to the Detroit Tigers in his most recent start on Sunday. The Royals won 3-2, but Bubic didn’t figure into the decision.
Bubic has yet to allow a run in a night game this season, throwing 11 2/3 shutout innings in two appearances (one start). He is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three appearances (two starts) all-time against the Twins.
–Field Level Media