Twins ponder pitching options for twin bill at Detroit

MLB

The latest postponement in the Twins’ weekend series against the Detroit Tigers gives Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli more options regarding his pitching staff.

The teams’ scheduled doubleheader on Friday was postponed due to inclement weather. The originally scheduled four-game series was supposed to begin Thursday, but players on both teams decided not to play that day in order to protest racial injustice.

It’s now a three-game series, barring any other developments. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday and a single game on Sunday. The other game will be made up as part of a Sept. 4 doubleheader in Minneapolis.

Both Saturday games will be seven innings, unless extra innings are required.

Twins right-hander Randy Dobnak will pitch the opener on Saturday.

The second game on Friday was going to be a “bullpen game” for Minnesota. Baldelli can now use his ace, Kenta Maeda, on his usual schedule for Game 2. However, it’s unclear if he’ll do so.

Baldelli still could opt to mix and match his bullpen and push Maeda to Sunday. That would give Sunday’s scheduled starter, Rich Hill, some extra rest.

The annual Jackie Robinson Day celebration, slated for Friday, will take place a day later than scheduled.

Both managers spoke of the day’s meaning, especially in light of Thursday’s protest.

“I think the amount of growth, just through the number of challenges and the number of different things that have gone on just in this short last year, it’s going to improve us as a group,” Baldelli said. “It’s going to improve and help us think about things differently.

“We’ve learned a lot. We’ve learned a lot as people, and I think when we go out there, we’re going to appreciate this day more than we ever have before.”

Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire said, “That’s always a special day, and it goes kind of hand in hand with what we’re talking about right now and what we talked about (Thursday).

“I’ve always enjoyed this day, putting on 42, and you hear the stories of what (Robinson) went through. … He set the tone, and that’s really important to this country and to baseball in general, what Jackie went through to give other players a chance.”

Dobnak (5-1, 1.78 ERA), just three years removed from pitching for the Utica (Mich.) Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League, has become one of the majors’ most effective starters.

Dobnak has not allowed more than two runs in any of his six starts. He didn’t give up an earned run over seven innings and two appearances against Detroit last season.

If Maeda (4-0, 2.21 ERA) starts Saturday, he would look to extend his streak of allowing three runs or fewer this season to seven games. In his latest outing on Monday, he held the Cleveland Indians to one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven in five innings.

Detroit’s Game 1 starter on Saturday, Matthew Boyd, will once again seek his first win of the season.

In his most recent outing on Aug. 22, Boyd (0-4, 8.48 ERA) held Cleveland to two runs on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He didn’t allow a homer for just the second time in six starts. Cleveland won the game 6-1.

Boyd has started against Minnesota 19 times, posting a 7-6 record and a 4.86 ERA.

Rookie left-hander Tarik Skubal (0-1, 10.38 ERA) will start the nightcap for the Tigers. He will be making his home debut in his third career start.

Skubal gave up one run on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings at Cleveland on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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