April 12, 2018

Max Kepler saves Twins from embarrassing loss

Despite the Twins’ 8-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, they couldn’t hold onto that lead and watched as the Houston Astros scored runs in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings to finally tie the game at 8-8.

Closer Fernando Rodney entered Wednesday’s game with a two-run lead, but gave up consecutive hits and walked a batter to load the bases in the top of the ninth inning. Rodney then induced a grounder, but Brian Dozier threw wide of Rodney covering first base and the runs scored to even the game.

Then Max Kepler stepped up to the plate and hit a walk-off home run — his second of the game — to win it for the Twins, 9-8.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything,” Kepler told MLB.com. “I was just in battle mode, trying to put the ball in play. I struck out the at-bat before. I hate striking out, so I was just trying to put it in play.”

The result is that the Twins took two of three games from the Astros after beating them 4-1 on Tuesday.

Pitching did just enough to keep the Twins in it. Kyle Gibson gave up five runs, all earned, in four-plus innings. Trevor Hildenberger also surrendered a run, while Zach Duke and Addison Reed, who was reportedly suffering from strep throat, did not. Rodney was tagged with the blown save, but also got the win.

The Chicago White Sox come to town Thursday. Jose Berrios gets the ball.

Extra innings…

-The Twins scored nine runs on nine hits Wednesday, getting extra-base hits from Kepler, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario, who tripled in the game, his first of the season. Rosario hit 15 triples for the Twins as a rookie in 2015.

-There was offense in Wednesday’s game, but very little of it in Tuesday’s 4-1 win. Robbie Grossman had the only extra-base hit, but the Twins strung together enough singles to score four runs. Jake Odorizzi allowed only one earned run in six innings, but he also walked five batters to keep things interesting. He came away with the win, though, his first as a Twin.

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.