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Twins' Max Kepler snaps 0-for-21 skid with 3-homer game

By
Alex Butler
Max Kepler hit a career-high 20 home runs last season, but already is up to 15 in 54 games this season for the Minnesota Twins. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI
Max Kepler hit a career-high 20 home runs last season, but already is up to 15 in 54 games this season for the Minnesota Twins. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

June 7 (UPI) -- Minnesota Twins outfielder Max Kepler recovered from an 0-for-21 hitting drought in the best way possible, hitting a trio of home runs in a win against the Cleveland Indians.

Kepler crushed long balls in the first inning, third inning and seventh inning of the 5-4 triumph Thursday at Progressive Field in Cleveland. The Twins lead Major League Baseball in home runs.

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"It's just nice to have a night like this, to see the ball well. It was looking like a pin in the days before," Kepler told Fox Sports.

"When you try and do the small things, big things happen."

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Kepler -- who didn't have a hit since May 28 entering the contest -- fouled off the first pitch of the bout. Indians starter Trevor Bauer then issued an 84.6 mph changeup.

Kepler belted the offering over the right field fence for a 368-foot solo shot. The bomb left the park at 95.99 mph and had a launch angle of 25 degrees, according to Statcast.

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Neither team plated a run in the second inning. Willians Astudillo led off the top of the third frame with a single. Bauer then settled in against Kepler for a second time. The Indians right-handed pitcher worked a 1-2 count against Kepler, who fouled off three consecutive pitches after taking a ball.

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Kepler crushed Bauer's sixth offering over the right field fence for a 374-foot blast. That two-run shot had an exit velocity of 99.2 mph and launch angle of 30 degrees.

Bauer walked Kepler in their third exchange of the game.

The Twins increased their lead to 4-0 with a Mitch Garver double in the fifth frame. Roberto Perez got the Indians on the board with a solo home run in the fifth frame.

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Kepler walked to the plate to face Bauer for a final time, leading off the seventh inning. The Twins outfielder smacked his first offering -- a 92.8 mph fastball -- over the center field fence for his third home run of the game. That solo shot traveled 405 feet and had an exit velocity of 102.4 mph.

The Indians rallied down the stretch. Tyler Naquin and Perez each recorded RBIs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Oscar Mercado hit his second home run of the season in the bottom of the ninth inning.

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Kepler was 4-for-4 on the day with four RBIs, three runs scored and a walk. He is now hitting .266 with 15 home runs and 40 RBIs this season for the Twins. The Twins outfielder was the only player in the game to record multiple hits. The Indians totalled four hits in the loss, while the Twins had seven hits.

Twins starter Jose Berrios moved to 8-2 on the season, allowing two hits and one run in six innings. Bauer picked up his sixth loss of the season, allowing five hits and five runs in eight innings.

The Twins take their bats to Michigan for a game against the Detroit Tigers at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Comerica Park in Detroit. Cleveland hosts the New York Yankees at 7:10 p.m. Friday at Progressive Field.

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