Baseball / MLB

Twins clinch first AL Central title since 2010


On this night, the stars were Randy Dobnak, Luis Arraez and Eddie Rosario — but really it could have been anyone.

The Minnesota Twins are AL Central champions because of contributions from all over the roster.

Arraez and Rosario homered, and Dobnak allowed one hit in six sparkling innings to lead Minnesota to a 5-1 win over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night. The Twins later clinched the division title when Cleveland lost to the White Sox in Chicago.

It’s the first division title for Minnesota since 2010 and will be only its second postseason appearance since then. The Twins (98-60) have their highest victory total since the 1970 team also won 98 games.

“It’s wonderful to see people achieve their goals and their dreams and reach these types of points,” said Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota’s first-year manager. “This is a very big mark. It’s something that we shoot for.”

The Twins wrapped up their win over the Tigers well before the Chicago-Cleveland game ended. That game was on television in the Minnesota clubhouse, where the Twins ate, played cards and waited calmly for a possible celebration.

As the White Sox closed out that 8-3 victory — first letting the Indians load the bases in the ninth inning — shouts could be heard in the hallway outside the Twins’ clubhouse.

The previous decade was much more successful for Minnesota, which won the division in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2009. That run abruptly came to an end with another AL Central title in 2010. Now the decade of the 2010s will end the way it started — with the Twins atop the division.

The winning pitcher Wednesday was a rookie who two years ago was playing for the Utica Unicorns of the United Shore Professional Baseball League. The Twins signed Dobnak to a minor league contract that year.

The 24-year-old Dobnak (2-1) allowed no scoring by Detroit after an unearned run in the first. Arraez hit a two-run homer in the seventh off Drew VerHagen (4-3), who had combined with Daniel Norris to shut out the Twins until then. Nelson Cruz added an RBI single in the eighth, and Rosario’s two-run shot that inning made it 5-1.

The Tigers (46-111) are assured of baseball’s worst record and the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

Astros 3, Mariners 0

In Seattle, Zack Greinke came within two outs of pitching the third no-hitter by Houston this year, losing his bid on a single by Seattle rookie Austin Nola in the ninth.

Greinke (18-5) was in complete control while trying for his first career no-hitter. He drew cheers from the orange-shirted Astros fans when he took the mound to begin the ninth and retired Tom Murphy on a grounder.

Nola, in an 0-for-16 slump, was up next and dumped a liner into shallow left-center field. Center fielder Jake Marisnick made a diving attempt but came up well short and pounded his fist on his leg.

Greinke gave up another single to Tim Lopes and was replaced after throwing 108 pitches. Will Harris got his third save.

Houston got all the runs it needed in the first inning. George Springer singled to lead off the game against Yusei Kikichi. Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez followed with RBI doubles for a quick 2-0 lead.

Kikuchi (6-11) settled down and held Houston scoreless over the next five innings, striking out four with no walks.

Brewers 9, Reds 2

In Cincinnati, Milwaukee wrapped up its second straight postseason appearance, with Ryan Braun’s grand slam sparking a rout of the Reds that also tightened the NL Central race.

Mets 10, Marlins 3

In New York, Pete Alonso hit his major league-high 51st home run, one short of the rookie record, and Jacob deGrom made his last overpowering pitch for a repeat Cy Young Award as the Mets routed Miami in an easy win that wasn’t enough to keep New York in the playoff hunt.

Rays 4, Yankees 0

In St. Petersburg, Florida, Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay bullpen combined on a one-hitter and the Rays held their lead in the AL wild-card race, beating New York.

In Other Games

Pirates 4, Cubs 2

Nationals 5, Phillies 1

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 7

White Sox 8, Indians 3

Braves 10, Royals 2

Red Sox 10, Rangers 3

Blue Jays 3, Orioles 2

Giants 2, Rockies 1

Dodgers 6, Padres 4

Athletics 3, Angels 2