If you’ll recall, Max Kepler faced Trevor Bauer earlier this season, and homered off of him in three straight at-bats. One would think — based on the premise that the best hitters are successful roughly 30% of the time — that Bauer would get his revenge this evening.
Instead, Max Kepler defied statistics, led off the ballgame with a homer, and homered again in the next inning.
It’s major-league history for your prototypical German-born ballerina-offspring leadoff hitter. No other batter in the MLB annals has ever hit a home run in five consecutive at-bats off a single pitcher in a single season. And yet, tonight, Kepler did just that.
When dinger number five in a row went over the wall, it was hard even for Bauer to conceal his disbelief, as he unabashedly gaped open-mouthed into the outfield. Perhaps one day, Bauer/Kepler stories will be told in the same way we share anecdotes of Tony Gwynn/Greg Maddux matchups.
Kepler finally struck out in his third at-bat, eliciting wry grins from both opponents.
By that time, the Twins were up 3-1; Jake Cave and Jose Ramirez each had solo jacks mirroring each of Kepler’s one-man roundtrippers. The game settled down scoring-wise until pretty late. Jake Odorizzi cruised until a lengthy six inning spelled an early departure. Bauer fought his way through a typical Bauer start, striking out eleven and chucking almost 120 pitches.
Once the bullpens entered, the bats fired back up on both sides. Bobby Bradley hit a solo home run in the seventh off Tyler Duffey to make it a one-run game, but Jake Cave and Marwin Gonzalez combined for three RBI in the last two frames to keep the lead safe.
Taylor Rogers continued his dominance with a scoreless ninth, this coming right after two shutdown innings on Friday.
The Twins have locked up the weekend series and effectively put a screeching halt to Cleveland’s hot streak. Their lead in the AL Central is back up to 7.5 games. Tomorrow, we go for the sweep!
RP Taylor Rogers (1 IP, K)
RF/CF Max Kepler (2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI)
SS Jorge Polanco (3-for-5, R)
LF/RF Jake Cave (2-for-3, R, 3 RBI)
NO DUDS! TWINS WIN! TWINS WIN!
ROBOT ROLL CALL:
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