Game 1: Donaldson, Twins start with a bang, cruise to 2-0 victory

MINNEAPOLIS — Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson hit back-to-back homers to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and Randy Dobnak bounced back with five scoreless innings as the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 2-0 in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader.

Dobnak (6-2) gave up four hits, a walk and struck out four batters in his second straight start against the Tigers. He surrendered a season-high six runs and 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings at Detroit in his last outing.

“I think I got ahead more today than I did last time,” Dobnak said. “Still not as much as I would like to be ahead early on with guys. Overall, we had the same game plan for today that we had last time, different results.”

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Taylor Rogers worked the seventh and final inning for his eighth save in 10 chances.

Polanco and Donaldson became the first duo to lead off the game with homers for Minnesota since Eduardo Núñez and Brian Dozier in 2016 against Kansas City.

Polanco’s fourth long ball of the season was the first leadoff homer of his career and the fourth of the season for the Twins. Donaldson followed with a deep drive that landed in the club seats above the center-field wall.

“I feel like I hit it well,” Donaldson said. “I haven’t hit one up there before. It was nice to be able to do that in the game. Execute. He made a mistake and I was able to execute a good swing on it.”

Detroit starter Matt Boyd (1-5) allowed consecutive leadoff homers for the third time in less than a month. He also gave up back-to-back home runs to the Chicago White Sox to start games on Aug. 12 and 17.

Boyd settled down nicely from there, allowing just two more hits while working all six innings.

“Those first two hitters, I was probably worried about things I shouldn’t be worried about instead of just going out there and attacking the glove,” Boyd said. “It kind of became clear to me. I made that adjustment in the Cruz at-bat. Costly mistakes there. It wasn’t just the pitches that were hit out, but the pitches surrounding them as well. That’s on me there.”

Dobnak had surprised early this season, leading the AL in ERA through five starts, but struggled at Detroit. On Friday, he got back to his strength of forcing groundballs. The Tigers hit into a pair of double plays.


Before the game, Minnesota placed outfielder Max Kepler on the 10-day injured list with a left adductor strain. Kepler left Wednesday night’s game against Chicago with the injury.

Manager Rocco Baldelli said the injury is considered minor and Kepler is likely to return after the 10 days expire.

The Twins selected the contract of outfielder Brent Rooker to take Kepler’s spot on the active roster. Rooker was the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft by Minnesota. He has hit .267 with 54 home runs in 259 career minor league games.

“He hits the ball very hard,” Baldelli said. “He can hit the ball very far when he does it the way he wants, and he has good at-bats. … We’re facing some tough lefties coming up who have been very good against, especially, left-handed hitters. To be able to pencil Rook’s name in there is very nice.”

Rooker was hit by a pitch in his first major league plate appearance.


Tigers: INF Niko Goodrum missed his second straight game with a sore right side. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the team wants to be cautious with Goodrum and avoid a stint on the injured list. INF Sergio Alcantara was added to the roster as the 29th man for the doubleheader.

Twins: 2B Luis Arraez missed Friday’s first game with continued patellar soreness in his left knee. Baldelli said Arraez is not expected to land on the injured list, but the injury will need to be managed. … C Mitch Garver has started baseball activity as he recovers from a right intercostal strain. Garver has been out since Aug. 19.


Minnesota started right-hander Matt Wisler (0-1, 1.08 ERA) in the second game. Left-handed reliever Tyler Alexander (2-1, 4.13) was the starter for Detroit.