Maeda looks to give Twins second straight win


Right-hander Kenta Maeda makes his Target Field debut on Saturday night when the Minnesota Twins continue their series with the Cleveland Indians in Minneapolis.

Maeda (1-0, 3.60 ERA), who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in February to help bolster Minnesota’s starting staff, has never faced the Indians in his career. He made a strong impression in his Twins debut on Sunday at Chicago when he struck out six White Sox hitters and allowed two runs in five innings during a 14-2 victory.

Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (1-0, 3.00) will start for Cleveland after winning his first start in 423 days on Sunday, 9-2, over the Kansas City Royals.

The 2019 American League Comeback Player of the Year and Robert Clemente Award winner gave up just two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 against the Royals. It was his first start since May 30, 2019. He spent the next three months battling leukemia before returning in September to pitch out of the bullpen.

“I think I went through a lot,” the 33-year-old Carrasco told after Sunday’s win. “But for me, I just think different things. I never put anything really bad in my mind. It’s always something good. And that’s what I did Day 1 until now.”

Carrasco posted just a 6.60 ERA in 11 relief appearances during his September comeback, allowing 18 hits and 11 earned runs in 15 innings. But the 18-game winner in 2017 looked like his old dominant self in Sunday’s victory.

“I think this is a good sign, man,” Carrasco said. “Like I said before, we’ve got a good rotation. And you guys know — and we know — we strike out a lot of people. I like to strike out a lot of people, too. … I just need to command my pitches, and when I have those pitches working really good, it’s hard to get on top of the ball.”

Carrasco is 7-10 with a 4.10 ERA in 26 career appearances (21 starts) against Minnesota, including 4-4 with a 4.29 ERA in 13 appearances and 10 starts at Target Field.

Cleveland won the first game of the four-game series, 2-0, on Thursday night behind Shane Bieber, who struck out 13 and allowed three hits in eight innings. The Twins, behind home runs by Max Kepler and Alex Avila and five shutout innings by Randy Dobnak, bounced back with a 4-1 win on Friday night.

There was some doubt during the day Friday whether the game would be played after it was announced two players on the St. Louis Cardinals, who had played at Target Field on Tuesday and Wednesday night, had tested positive for COVID-19. Minnesota players underwent rapid on-site nasal swab testing, which provided results within 30 minutes with no positive results, and the two teams eventually decided to play the game.

“It was a very different day,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Just a very unique situation. Can’t say the comfort level with everyone was ideal. We met as a group an hour before the game to discuss some things and to lay out some facts about what is going on here, what is going on in baseball, what we heard from Major League Baseball, what we heard from the Players Association. …

“There were guys waiting to be tested and it was five o’clock and they’re not able to get into the stadium. Our guys took a very difficult situation, they were able to focus, they were able to lock in, and it makes what happened today out on the field even more impressive.”

–Field Level Media

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