Pablo López throws 1st career shutout, strikes out 12 in the Twins’ 4-0 win over the Royals

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2023

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

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

The smooth-throwing 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.

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López gave up two doubles and two singles without a walk 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 with Van Halen’s “Right Now” rocking through the stadium sound system. After an especially quick 1-2-3 inning, López got a dousing of ice water and donned the team’s celebratory fishing vest that normally fetes home run hitters in the dugout.

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 for insurance 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.

Jeffers scored from second on Kirilloff’s two-out line drive to left field with a head-first slide that was undeterred by M.J.

Melendez’s throw to the plate that hit him square 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 for a standing ovation.

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 Twins challenged.

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

Royals RHP Zack Greinke went on the 15-day injured list with shoulder tendinitis, a minor injury that might only cost him one turn in the rotation.

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. Ober pitched seven scoreless innings with two hits allowed in a 1-0 win over the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday.