August 2, 2016

Kepler home runs back Berrios on busy, encouraging day for Twins

Rookie Max Kepler hit three home runs, top prospect Jose Berrios pitched six solid innings and the Twins banged out 19 hits en route to a 12-5 win over the AL Central-leading Cleveland Indians on Monday. And all of this capped a day of promising trades that saw the Twins deal pitchers Ricky Nolasco, Alex Meyer and Fernando Abad for minor league prospects and a proven starter in Hector Santiago.

But first the game. Berrios was quickly handed a 2-0 lead after Kepler’s first home run, but then Berrios handed it right back, giving up three runs in the bottom of the first. Unlike previous starts though, Berrios settled down to retire 15 straight, with five strikeouts and no walks. Monday’s win was his second of the season.

Helping his cause was an offensive explosion. In addition to Kepler’s three homers, Joe Mauer had four hits, including a double and home run, Eddie Rosario homered, Jorge Polanco hit two triples and Kurt Suzuki contributed two doubles.

Match this offense with a decent rotation and the Twins, I believe, will begin to rise in the standings. Interim GM Rob Antony, who likely is beginning to secure the inside track for the permanent job, made more moves on Monday to strengthen the pitching staff.

To recap:

-Nolasco and Meyer were dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for starter Hector Santiago and minor league pitching prospect Alan Busenitz. Santiago comes to the Twins with a record of 10-4 and a 4.25 ERA, but he also has a career ERA of 3.68. Nolasco leaves the Twins with a record of 4-8 and a 5.13 ERA.

-Lefty setup man Fernando Abad was sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for minor league pitching prospect and flamethrower Pat Light. Light, according to MLB.com, “has a fastball that reaches triple digits as well as a splitter and slider. He posted a 2.32 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 17 walks in 31 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket.”

-Shortstop Eduardo Nunez was traded last week to the San Francisco Giants for top pitching prospect and lefty Adalberto Mejia.

Some reaction to the player trades:

Extra innings…

-No Twin has ever hit four home runs in a game, but Kepler joins Justin Morneau, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison and Tony Oliva as Twins who have hit three in one game.

-With Monday’s win, the Twins improved to 6-4 versus the Indians this season.

-Monday’s loss for Tribe pitcher and 11-game winner Danny Salazar was the shortest outing (two innings) of his career.

-Kepler finished the night with four hits, finally hitting a single in the top of the ninth.

-Despite the Twins’ struggles this season, the team is 13-6 against first-place clubs, according to data shared during Monday’s radio broadcast. Go figure.

(Please ignore the claim about the Twins being 13-6 against first-place clubs because the numbers just don’t add up. Maybe I didn’t I hear it correctly last night because a check of the first-place clubs in the American League (Orioles, Cleveland, Texas), show that the Twins are 12-11, which isn’t terrible, but it’s not 13-6. Now, the Twins are 14-6 against Cleveland, Texas and Seattle, but that includes a team (Mariners) that held first place for about a month).

Kyle Gibson gets the ball on Tuesday.

 

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.