Minnesota Twins: Kepler Walks Off Red Sox
Wunderbar! Max Kepler Hits Walk-off HR as Minnesota Twins Win in 10th.
In a game that seemed to follow a distressing trend, Max Kepler turned it around with a three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to push the Minnesota Twins over the top, 7-4.
That gave the Twins a much-needed jolt to salvage the final game of this three-game series over Boston, after losing the first two by a combined 23-5 score.
Starter Pat Dean pitched well enough for a win, though some poor fielding in the 8th inning cost him a chance at that.
Dean walked two of the first three batters in the 7th inning with a 4-1 lead, and seemed to be laboring.
Manager Paul Molitor went to the bullpen, summoning Kevin Jepsen, much to the dismay of the fans in attendance. Jepsen was able to wiggle out of any further trouble, and pumped his fist as he struck out Travis Shaw to shut the door.
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The next inning brought out Brandon Kintzler as part of Molitor’s new end of the game bullpen. He promptly walked the Red Sox lead-off hitter, and gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs.
In need of a double play, Kintzler came through, getting a hard hit grounder to third. Eduardo Nunez made a nice dive to get the grounder and popped up to get the first out at second but his throw sailed into right field, allowing two runners to score and leaving runners at the corners.
Molitor once again went to the bullpen, this time asking Fernando Abad to stop the bleeding.
Now in a 4-3 game, Abad had to face David Ortiz in a situation where the future Hall of Famer has come through in the clutch so many times in the past.
On a 2-2 pitch, Abad induced another double play grounder, and this time the Twins executed it perfectly, though the tying run scored on the play to make it 4-all.
Facing another potential Boston rally in the 9th, after giving up a lead-off single, Abad fielded a bunt intended to sacrifice the runner to second, and instead fired to second to set off the last of the Twins 4 double plays in Sunday’s game.
The Minnesota Twins weren’t able to mount much offense against the Red Sox bullpen until the 10th inning. A walk to Joe Mauer (another lead-off walk in the game), and Trevor Plouffe‘s successful sacrifice, gave the Twins a runner in scoring position with only one out.
While that sounds good in theory, the Twins are 29th in the league with runners in scoring position with a .216 average. Up to Brian Dozier‘s at-bat, the Twins were 1-for-11 in Sunday’s game with RISP.
A sharp single to center ticked off the glove of the shortstop, freezing Mauer temporarily, and left the Minnesota Twins with runners at the corners.
The Red Sox pulled the infield in to try to keep Mauer from scoring, eschewing the double play. Dozier easily advanced to second on catcher’s indifference on the first pitch to Kepler.
Needing only a deep fly ball to the outfield, Kepler did one better by plunking an 0-2 pitch over the center field wall off the batter’s eye for his first Major League home run, and his first walk-off hit of his career.
MVT: Max Kepler – Was there any doubt?
The Minnesota Twins will fly out to California to face the Los Angeles Angels for three games, and then return home for a four-game series with the New York Yankees starting Thursday. I’m sure no bouquets were sent to the MLB scheduler for this week.
The Twins (19-43) will have Ricky Nolasco on the mound for the first game, opposite Jered Weaver for the Angels (27-35 ). First pitch will be at 9:05 CDT.
Next: Twins Add Righty Reliever
Notes: J.T. Chargois was optioned after today’s game to make room for new reliever Neil Ramirez. Pitcher Phil Hughes was placed on the 60-day DL to clear space on the 40 man roster.