Rookie right-hander Randy Dobnak will take the mound for the Minnesota Twins on Sunday afternoon when they host the Kansas City Royals in Minneapolis in the third game of their four-game series.
The 25-year-old Dobnak, a former Uber and Lyft driver signed by the Twins out of the independent United Shore Professional Baseball League in Detroit, has been one of the feel-good stories of the 2020 baseball season, posting a 3-1 record and majors-best 0.90 ERA (among starters) in four starts.
Dobnak has allowed just two runs and 13 hits in 20 innings this season, keeping hitters off balance with sharp, biting sinkers and sliders to go along with pinpoint control. He has walked just five batters while striking out 11.
Dobnak went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA with Single-A Cedar Rapids in 2018 before making quicks stops at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Rochester and earning an early August promotion to the big leagues last season.
He is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in one career start against Kansas City, allowing one run on three hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 4-3 victory last Sept. 20.
“I probably would have called them crazy,” Dobnak told MLB.com when asked what he would have thought if told a year ago he’d be leading the majors in ERA.
“But I trust myself every time I go out there. I have 100 percent confidence in myself to pitch to the best of my ability and give the team a chance to win. That’s what I’m going to do every time I go out there, no matter whether I’m facing the Brewers or Pirates or the Yankees.”
Kansas City will counter with right-hander Brady Singer (1-1, 4.50) who will be making his fifth big league start. Singer’s first major league victory came against the Twins on Aug. 9 in Kansas City, when he allowed two runs on five hits over five innings in a 4-2 win.
“It was unbelievable,” Singer said. “Hopefully there will be many more to come. I’m going to enjoy this and soak it in. You only get your first win once.”
Following a Friday night postponement because of inclement weather, the two teams traded 4-2 seven-inning victories in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
Minnesota, beginning a stretch of 20 games in 19 days, won the opener as Nelson Cruz hit a 448-foot two-run homer off the facing of the third deck in left field, and he also doubled and scored another run.
Cruz also hit a solo homer in the second game to give him six for the season and 11 home runs in his last 14 games against Kansas City.
The Royals rebounded to take the second game behind a three-run homer by Whit Merrifield in the fourth inning off Twins starter Jose Berrios. Merrifield, who also doubled, finished with three hits and four RBIs to back a solid five-inning start by Danny Duffy, who picked up his first win of the season.
“Big spot there,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny, who picked up his 600th career managing victory, said of Merrifield’s home run.
“He takes such a nice short swing and (doesn’t) try to do too much. I think that’s a lesson for all of our guys. Some guys think home run and then they actually slow their swing down by trying too hard to do that,” Matheny said.
–Field Level Media