Randy Dobnak showed off the game ball on Friday as he notched the first win of his major league career during the Twins’ 4-3 victory over the Royals. He’ll probably get the lineup card, autographed by his teammates, as well. He’s come a long way from being an undrafted free agent who signed with the Twins in July 2017.
But Friday was just the beginning of his journey, in more ways than baseball.
“Getting married in eight days,” he said after holding Kansas City to one run over 5⅓ innings. “Actually, I guess it will be 7½ now. The best is yet to come, though. Getting married.”
On Sept. 28, Dobnak will marry fiancé Aerial Munson in Williamsport, Md., with 235 friends and family members expected in attendance. This will take place while the Twins are in Kansas City playing their penultimate game of the regular season against the Royals.
The wedding was planned two years in advance, when Dobnak had no idea that his career was going to take him from the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League to the Twins organization, then quickly up the farm system.
But the Royals saw why the Twins took a chance on him. He held Kansas City to that run on three hits and two walks while striking out five. He was on a roll early, getting five swings-and-misses in the first inning, nine over the first three. He stayed ahead in the count after that and didn’t give up a run until the sixth inning.
“He’s pitched great for us,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He certainly has earned that win, this year and big picture. He’s certainly earned it. He’s a pretty adaptable guy. Pretty much whatever you ask him to do, he’s fine doing it.”
The Twins scored twice in the first inning and held a 2-0 lead until Alex Gordon hit an RBI single off Cody Stashak in the sixth to cut the lead in half. But the Twins got a two-out, two-run double from Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth to push their lead to 4-1.
A Miguel Sano error in the eighth set up a two-run inning, but Gonzalez helped keep Kansas City from doing more damage by throwing out Hunter Dozier at second for the first out of the inning, and the Royals left the tying run stranded at third. In the ninth, with the Twins protecting a one-run lead and AL home run leader Jorge Soler looming as the potential go-ahead run, Trevor May struck out the side to earn his second save of the season and fifth of his career.
The Twins bullpen was a little fatigued Friday, leading Baldelli to use Stashak, Devin Smeltzer and Brusdar Graterol — like Dobnak, all rookies — to help protect the lead. That trio all earned their first career holds on Friday, helping Dobnak get the game ball.
The Twins lowered their magic number for clinching the AL Central to five. Second-place Cleveland won its fifth game in a row Friday, beating Philadelphia 5-2.
By the way, the Twins are cool with Dobnak leaving the team to get married, considering the circumstances. His next turn in the rotation would be Wednesday or Thursday at Detroit, so there is no conflict. The Twins even list where Dobnak and Munson are registered at in the team’s game notes.
“He had other priorities and that’s a very important moment in his life and it’s been — he should go and do it and enjoy it thoroughly and when it’s done, we can talk to him when he’s done,” Baldelli said. “After he’s enjoyed the whole experience and weekend and everything.”