Minnesota Twins pick up split with Cleveland Indians behind Max Kepler homer

By Brian Hall, The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 17, 2017 at 11:52 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Max Kepler hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning after his slip led to an Indians run in the top of the inning, and the Minnesota Twins beat Cleveland 4-2 to split a day-night doubleheader Thursday at Target Field.

Aaron Slegers allowed just two hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings in his major league debut for the Twins, but he wouldn't earn a win after Kepler fell while fielding a hard-hit ball from Carlos Santana, tying the game in the top of the seventh. Edwin Encarnacion scored from first on the play after singling as the final batter Slegers faced.

Trevor Hildenberger (2-1) gave up the hit to Santana but stranded him at third base with a pair of groundouts. Hildenberger pitched 1 1/3 innings with the one hit allowed as Minnesota beat the Indians for the first time in nine home games this season.

Matt Belisle struck out Encarnacion and Santana in the ninth for his third save.

Cleveland, which had its five-game winning streak snapped, has outscored the Twins 67-22 in Target Field this year.

Mike Clevinger (6-5) took the loss in relief of starter Ryan Merritt. Clevinger surrendered two runs on three hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.

Clevinger was originally scheduled to start Thursday before the Wednesday game was postponed due to rain, allowing Merritt to be added from Triple-A. Jay Bruce added his first homer in eight games for the Indians since being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds.

Cleveland won the first game 9-3 as Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis each had three hits with a homer, and Carlos Carrasco continued the Indians' strong run of starting pitching.

Gomes provided a big insurance blast with a three-run homer in the eighth after the Twins closed within a run. Kipnis followed with his second homer in as many games, a solo shot, later in the inning.

Carrasco (12-5) surrendered one run on a Byron Buxton home run in five innings while striking out nine batters. He yielded five hits and a walk.

Twins starter Kyle Gibson (6-10) gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in four innings. Minnesota struck out 19 times in the first game to set a team record for a nine-inning game.

Slegers wasn't overpowering in the minors, striking out 97 batters in 130 1/3 innings in Triple-A this season, but the 6-foot-10 right-hander kept Cleveland off-balance with a mix of pitches. Slegers retired the first seven batters he faced. Bruce's homer with two outs in the fourth was the first hit and run allowed by the 24-year-old.

Both starters were recalled as the 26th man for the doubleheaders for their respective teams.

Merritt, who had made a spot start in a doubleheader against the Twins earlier this season, avoided major trouble in his 3 2/3 innings. He was charged with two runs (one earned).

Minnesota left the bases loaded in the second inning. The Twins added a run in the third off Merritt when Eduardo Escobar blooped a single to right field with the bases loaded. Merritt stranded two runners to end the inning.

NOTES: Cleveland 3B Jose Ramirez left the first game in the second inning after being hit in the right forearm area by a fastball from Kyle Gibson. X-rays were negative, and Ramirez said he was feeling fine after the game. Manager Terry Francona said it was possible Ramirez could even play in the second game, but he was held out. ... Minnesota OF Robbie Grossman left the evening game with a fractured left thumb. Grossman collided with CF Byron Buxton in the second inning but stayed in the game and singled in his first at-bat. Max Kepler pinch-hit for Grossman an inning later. ... The Twins activated LHP Glen Perkins from the 60-day disabled list. Perkins, who had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder last year, pitched in the ninth inning for his first appearance in the majors since April 10, 2016, a span of 273 games. He allowed two runs while getting one out. ... Minnesota placed LHP Dietrich Enns on the 10-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain. ... The Twins recalled LHP Nik Turley and optioned LHP Buddy Boshers to Triple-A between games.

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