PITTSBURGH -- The Twins send Kenta Maeda, their most effective starter, to the mound this afternoon at 12:35 as they wrap up a home and home series against the Pirates.

At stake is a sweep of the two-game series here as well as sweep of the four-game home and home series his week.

The Twins said this morning that Devin Smeltzer will start on Friday and Jake Odorizzi will make his season debut on Saturday vs Kansas City. Also, to get to the 28-player limit they optioned outfielder Aaron Whitefield back to the St. Paul group.

The Twins won last night's games 5-2 on basically good pitching and solid defense. Well, there was one outstanding play when Luis Arraez dived to his right to grab a hard hit grounder by Gregory Polanco.

Offensively, the Twins couldn't get on track against Pirates righthander Trevor Williams for six innings. They chased some pitches that dropped out of the strike zone, then missed some fat pitches over the heart of the plate. Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario come to mind as two hitters who had pitches to hit and just missed them.

Kepler, of course, came through with a three-run home run in the ninth inning to put the game away and seal a win for righthander Randy Dobnak, who returned home and pitched six superlative innings.

The Twins are 10-2 and have not played their best baseball yet. They've won a chunk of these games with pitching and defense lately. The defense, at the worst, has been solid. The pitching has been excellent, and Maeda gets to continue that run today. He is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA and has looked dominant at times during his first two starts.

Just think what it will look like once the bats get going consistently.

"Yeah I mean I think it shows that we’re in the right spot to win a lot of games because we’re doing it early," outfielder Jake Cave said. "Everybody’s not firing on all cylinders but we have a really good lineup so when guys are struggling a little bit, there are other guys that are having good days."

TWINS

Max Kepler, RF

Jorge Polanco, SS

Nelson Cruz, DH

Eddie Rosario, LF

Miguel Sano, 1B

Marwin Gonzalez, 2B

Ehire Adrianza, 3B

Alex Avila, C

Byron Buxton, CF

PIRATES

 Adam Frazier, 2B

Phillip Evans, 3B

Josh Bell, DH

Colin Moran, 1B

Bryan Reynolds, LF

Gregory Polanco, RF

JT Riddle, SS

John Ryan Murphy, D

Jarrod Dyson, C

Starting pitcher: JT Brubaker, RHP

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Dobnak starts as Twins continue Pirates series in Pittsburgh

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Smeltzer starts as Twins begin three-game series in Kansas City