Jose Berrios pounded the strike zone in his start on Tuesday. Randy Dobnak lost it in his.
The Twins split their doubleheader on Tuesday in St. Louis, capping a whirlwind one-day road trip. Behind Berrios and a trio of home runs, they won the first game 7-3 before losing the second game of the doubleheader 6-4 after surrendering five runs in an abnormal third inning.
Dobnak, working on short rest, inexplicably lost all control in the third inning after two scoreless frames, walking two batters and hitting two more. The starter said he couldn’t pinpoint the why the control issues happened, but it was clear he was frustrated by them by his mannerisms on the field.
“One thing I really hate about pitching is when I walk guys or give them free passes and stuff like that because that always comes back to bite you in the butt,” Dobnak said. “ … I’ve just got to be better next time out, get ahead of guys and stop putting guys on base and make them earn it.”
Dobnak, who allowed a single to the first batter he faced in the inning, then hit Matt Wieters with a pitch. It was the first hit batsman for him this season. Then he walked Harrison Bader to load the bases, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Wes Johnson.
Dobnak hit the next batter on the foot with a pitch to score a run and then issued a bases-loaded walk, which tied up the game. The Twins had been leading 2-0 at the time thanks to Brent Rooker’s first career home run, a two-run blast in the second inning.
“That inning just seemed like it just didn’t play out very well for us, the walks, the hit by pitches. One of them it probably hit his foot,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Just very unusual just the whole feel of it. All that being said, we could have probably minimized the damage and helped Dobber get out of there a little bit sooner.”
Three more runs scored in the inning, including another one on a bases-loaded walk — this one issued by Caleb Thielbar. Thielbar then had a marathon 19-pitch at-bat with Wieters, before getting him to fly out to strand the bases loaded. Wieters, in total, fouled off 14 pitches.
“I guess after coming in and walking a guy, walking in a run, I was just kind of determined not to do another one,” Thielbar said. “I mean, even still, I can’t believe I threw that many strikes in a row. You just never know when something crazy’s going to happen in this game.”
Though the game was still within reach, the Twins couldn’t mount a comeback, scoring their other two runs in the game on a Miguel Sano RBI groundout and a Nelson Cruz home run — his 15th of the season and second of the day.
Cruz’s game one home run was one of three for the Twins, who also had longballs from Josh Donaldson and Sano in the win.
That, and a solid start from Jose Berrios, who was nearly unhittable for the first five innings of the game. Berrios, with some help from catcher Willians Astudillo, who noted early in the game that his shoulder was flying open, gave up just a pair of hits while striking out eight through the first five innings.
That included a dominant fourth inning where he registered three swinging strikeouts against the heart of the Cardinals’ order.
“The numbers say it,” Berrios said. “The game tells you how you felt. … We created a plan, and we went out there and executed it. We threw all three pitches for strikes, and we had good results today.”
Berrios ultimately ran into some trouble near the end of his start, giving up three runs in the sixth inning, but the Twins never trailed in the win after jumping ahead on Donaldson’s home run in the third inning.
The Twins, winners of seven of their last nine games, will now have two days off to rest and prepare for a big week ahead of them that will feature series against the two teams they are trailing in their division: Cleveland and Chicago.
“We haven’t had very many days off. To get one right now, after playing a bunch of games, it’s well deserved for all the guys,’ Baldelli said. “… It’s about time, and everyone is ready for it. But then again, we’ve been playing well, so I’m sure there are some guys who will be waiting to get back out there.”