The Minnesota Twins outfielder smacked two home runs to help the Twins pick up a series victory in Cleveland on Saturday night.
Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler came into Saturday night as one of the emerging players in the game. With a .262 average, 21 HR and 56 RBI on the year, the 26-year old had become one of the catalysts in the highest-scoring lineup in Major League Baseball. However, there may be no team that Kepler likes terrorizing more than the Cleveland Indians.
Kepler’s dominance over Cleveland continued on Saturday night as he launched a pair of home runs against Trevor Bauer and Jake Cave drove in three RBI as the Twins took down the Indians by a score of 6-2.
Twin Takeaways – The Good
The victory for the Twins started with Kepler at the plate as he hit a leadoff home run that put the Twins on the board early. In his next at-bat in the third inning, he would send another one to the right-center field gap that barely scraped the wall for his second bomb. That would be his fifth straight home run against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer dating back to when he hit three off the right-hander on June 6.
With Kepler continuing to terrorize the Indians, Jake Cave would also step up delivering a solo home run in the second inning and a clutch two-RBI double in the top of the eighth that would help blow the game open at 5-2.
Marwin Gonzalez would add an insurance run with a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth and that would be plenty of run support for the Twins on the mound. Jake Odorizzi made his return off the injured list and looked sharp going 5 1/3 innings allowing a solo home run to Jose Ramirez, but just three hits, a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts to get the victory.
The bullpen was solid for the most part as Ryan Harper helped the Twins get out of a jam with two runners on in the top of the sixth and Blake Parker benefitted from a diving grab by Byron Buxton in the top of the eighth. Taylor Rogers would come on in the ninth to slam the door for the Twins.
Twin Takeaways – The Bad
Overall it was a good night for the Twins bullpen as they were able to successfully close the bridge to Rogers in the ninth, but the struggles of Tyler Duffey continued against the Tribe. Duffey would allow the Indians to climb back into the game in the seventh on a Bobby Bradley home run and it marked the fourth time in his past five outings the right-hander has allowed an earned run.
During that stretch, Duffey has allowed seven earned runs in his past 3 1/3 innings, which raises the question of why he continues to get the ball in these spots. It didn’t cost the Twins the game here, but Duffey needs to figure things out soon before the Twins trade for his replacement in such situations.
The Twins will go for the sweep in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon when Jose Berrios takes the mound at 12:05 CT. Berrios is coming off his second consecutive appearance in the All-Star Game and comes into Sunday’s tilt with an 8-5 record and a 3.00 ERA. Berrios is 2-0 with a 0.66 ERA against Cleveland this season with 16 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.
His opponent will be fellow All-Star Shane Bieber, who also threw a scoreless inning in the AL’s victory on Tuesday night. The right-hander has enjoyed a breakout season for the Indians, going 8-3 with a 3.45 ERA. Beiber has had two appearances against the Twins this season (one start) with a 1-0 record and a 3.00 ERA.