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Pablo López Throws 1st Career Shutout, Strikes Out 12 in the Twins 5-0 Win over the Royals


By: Dave Campbell, AP News


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Twins gave up a lot to get Pablo López.

He made it look as if he was well worth the price Wednesday night.

López pitched his first career shutout, a four-hitter complete with a career-high 12 strikeouts in the Twins’ 4-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

“That was am `Here I am’ performance,’” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said.

López (5-5) retired 15 straight from the third to the eighth inning, including a stretch with six consecutive strikeouts, to help the Twins post a three-game sweep.

The 27-year-old right-hander, who came to Minnesota this season from Miami in a trade for major league batting leader Luis Arraez, had the Twins’ second shutout from a starter in less than two weeks after Joe Ryan spun one for the club’s first in five years. The last time the Twins had multiple shutouts in one season was 2011, done by Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano.

“I just came in here and tried not to be anybody else,” López said. “I tried to just come in here and let the Twins know who Pablo López is.”

Rookie Edouard Julien hit his second home run of the series to give the Twins the lead in the first, and Ryan Jeffers went deep in the seventh. Alex Kirilloff’s RBI single sparked a two-run third inning, Donovan Solano added an RBI double in the eighth, and the Twins won for the fifth time in six games since a humbling sweep at Atlanta prompted them to declare the season was starting over.

Kyle Isbel hit a two-out double in the eighth to end López’s retired-batters streak, but right fielder Max Kepler kept the shutout alive with a dive and a snag of Matt Duffy’s line drive to end that inning.

“He gives you a little break, gets you off your legs a little bit when he’s striking everybody out,” Kepler said. “But you’ve still got to be ready to make plays in case the ball comes your way.”

López was walk-free in his first scoreless appearance since he beat the Royals on opening day. He received a rousing ovation from the crowd as he returned to the mound for the ninth, keeping limber with an exaggerated arm circle as Van Halen’s “Right Now” rocked through the stadium sound system.

After a six-pitch ninth, on the heels of a seven-pitch eighth, López was doused with ice water and donned the team’s celebratory fishing vest that normally fetes home run hitters in the dugout.

“Every little milestone that all of us as players get to achieve, we need to soak it in,” said López, who threw 76 of his 100 pitches for strikes. “Because as players, as people, we spend so much time dwelling on failure that I think we don’t cherish the good times as much.”

According to Sportradar, only six pitchers in the majors this season hit the 100-pitch mark with a higher strike percentage.

“They traded for him for a reason. He’s got really good stuff,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said.

Alec Marsh (0-2) finished five innings with three hits allowed in his second career start for the Royals.

“There were a lot of encouraging things there,” Quatraro said.


Jeffers scored from second on Kirilloff’s line drive to left field with a head-first slide, when M.J. Melendez’s throw to the plate hit him on the left side of the neck. Carlos Correa came home on the error charged to Melendez to make it 3-0 as Jeffers, a bit dazed, climbed to his feet to a standing ovation.

“It just got like all muscle,” Jeffers said. “It’s just like getting hit on the thigh or something. Thank God I’ve got a thick neck.”


Marsh picked two runners off first base, both on challenges by the Royals after crew chief Dan Bellino initially made safe calls for Willi Castro in the fourth inning and Julien in the fifth.

Castro was the beneficiary of a replay review in the second inning when he was first thrown out on a stolen base attempt. The ruling by second base umpire Shane Livensparger was overturned after the challenge by the Twins made Castro 18 for 21 on steals this season.

López recorded a pickoff, too, ending the second inning by nabbing Drew Waters leaning too far off first.


Royals: RHP Jordan Lyles (1-11, 6.68 ERA) starts on Thursday night to open a four-game series at Cleveland. RHP Tanner Bibee (5-2, 3.46 ERA) pitches for the Guardians.

Twins: After an off day, RHP Bailey Ober (5-4, 2.70 ERA) takes the mound Friday night to start a three-game series against Baltimore. LHP Cole Irvin (1-3, 6.32 ERA) pitches for the Orioles.