MINNEAPOLIS -- Devin Smeltzer’s latest Twins start looked a lot like his first — quick and efficient for six innings, not a lot of hits, not a lot of run support.
But this time around, Smeltzer, who was called up for the injured Michael Pineda — just like in his debut — did get at least one run of support, giving him his first career win in the process. Smeltzer’s gem was what the Twins needed in a 3-0 pitchers’ duel over the Royals on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 4, at Target Field, helping them complete the three-game sweep.
“I’ve always been a big believer in myself,” he said. “You’ve got to be the biggest fan of yourself to be successful. Even when my stuff’s not playing well, I’ve got to believe that it is going to play well and that it’ll be there when I need it.”
It was there Sunday.
The Twins told the lefty Saturday night he would start . They announced his call up from Triple-A and that he would be taking the ball on Sunday mere hours before the game started. But despite the short notice, Smeltzer held the Royals to just two singled in his outing, one which was wiped out immediately with a pick off.
He walked just one batter in his start, Alex Gordon, ending his day after six-plus innings. Gordon was eventually caught on the base paths as part of a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out to end the seventh inning.
“He’s not going to light up the radar gun velocity-wise but his fastball plays a little bit harder than what you see on the board just because of the carry that he gets at the top of the zone, and his changeup is outstanding,” catcher Jason Castro said. “That complements the fastball really well.
Before he left, the Twins (69-42) scored the first run of the game in the sixth inning, to provide him with some support. Luis Arraez, who had two of the Twins’ five hits off Royals (40-73) starter Brad Keller, led off the frame with a single.
Arraez advanced on a wild pitch and subsequent groundout before Eddie Rosario lifted a ball to right field. Royals outfielder Jorge Soler made a nice diving play to rob Rosario of a hit, but Arraez scored on the play.
Castro provided some breathing room with his first home run in more than a month in the seventh inning and an inning later, Rosario banged a single off the limestone in right field, driving in Arraez again for another run.
After Duffey’s scoreless seventh, Sergio Romo protected the lead in a 1-2-3 eighth inning — his fourth scoreless outing as a member of the Twins — and Taylor Rogers, pitching for the first time in the series, sealed up the save for Smeltzer’s first career win.
“First wins, first base hits, these are awesome moments. You don’t see them very often,” Baldelli said. “One thing I can say about Smeltz is that he’s earned his first major-league win. He’s come out and pitched really well for us. Every time we throw him out there, he goes out there and competes really well.”