Max Kepler entered the Twins’ game on Thursday night in an 0-for-21 slump and without a hit since the team began a road trip last week in Tampa Bay. That skid came to an end in the first inning in Cleveland as Kepler homered on Trevor Bauer’s second pitch of the game.
He was far from done.
By the time the night was finished, Kepler had three home runs and, thanks in part to a solid start from Jose Berrios (six innings, two runs, one earned, two hits, one walk, six strikeouts), the Twins had ended a two-game losing streak and had a 5-4 victory over the host Indians. Kepler now has 15 home runs on the season.
This marked the second time in Kepler’s career he has had three home runs in a game and both times it has happened in Cleveland. He also hit three homers against the Indians on Aug. 1, 2016. It was only the 10th three-homer game in Twins history. Others who have done it include Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Justin Morneau, Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario (twice) and Byron Buxton.
Kepler’s first home run came on a changeup, his second on a third-inning slider and his third on a seventh-inning fastball. Kepler came to the plate in the ninth inning with a chance to add a fourth homer but ended up with a single off lefty reliever Josh Smith.
“(The baseball) was looking like a pin the days before,” Kepler told FSN after the game. ” … (But) some days you just see it well. I was trying to put the ball in play. When you try to do the small things, big things happen.”
Said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli: “(That’s a) pretty special game. … It’s just a really, really nice night for him. He was on the ball all night long. That’s how guys sometimes come out of (slumps).”
Kepler, who went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and a walk, was 8-for-31 (.258) in his career against Bauer entering Thursday with no home runs. As you can see below, that quickly changed.
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 6, 2019
HE DOES IT AGAIN!
— FOX Sports North (@fsnorth) June 6, 2019
This is the THIRD homer of the game for Max. 💣💣💣
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) June 7, 2019