Max Kepler smashes two home runs in Twins win

MINNEAPOLIS — Max Kepler remained secured, Joe Ryan pitched like an ace, the infield defense was airtight behind him, and Minnesota’s winning streak rolled on to 6 video games on Wednesday night at Target Field.

Kepler squashed a set of crowning achievement off previous colleague Michael Pineda, consisting of an uncommon proving of opposite-field power, while Ryan permitted one hit and one walk in a dominant effort, ending up being the very first Twins pitcher to finish 7 innings this season. All that caused a 5-0 success over the Tigers to extend the club’s longest winning streak because 2020 — a a lot more comfy resolution than the disorderly mess of Tuesday’s surface.

“It feels like there’s some magic behind it,” Kepler stated. “Yesterday was wild. You don’t see that happen a lot. But when you are part of a team, or when you’re in a year where it goes this way, it goes your way, then it’s something special and something you want to capitalize on and take advantage of.”

It’ll be a lot easier for the Twins to keep taking advantage of that energy if Kepler can keep striking by doing this.

Here’s why it’s been an especially considerable stretch for the Twins’ long time best fielder:

On Tuesday, he keyed the Minnesota offense by driving in the club’s very first 3 runs (prior to the last 2 scored on the insane walk-off mistake) with an RBI double and a two-run homer, both versus Detroit left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez.

Not just did Kepler go into Wednesday with a profession .644 OPS versus lefties, compared to .798 for righties, however that likewise significant his very first video game because 2018 in which he knocked numerous extra-base hits versus a lefty.

“Someone asked me the lefty-righty comparison, and I told him that before I got to the big leagues, it wasn’t ever as blown out of proportion as it was before,” Kepler discussed. “I always looked at them as the same. It just comes from a different angle. But the lefty-lefty matchup for me is just another pitcher throwing to me.”

And on Wednesday, when he squashed a homer to left-center field in the 2nd inning and another blast to right-center in the 4th, the previous significant just the 8th amongst his 124 profession long balls to land to the left of straightaway center.

Ordinarily a pull-oriented line-drive player (Statcast has 81.3 percent of his profession strikes concerning either the “pull” or “straightaway” instructions) with noticable left-right divides, Kepler’s last 2 video games have actually revealed the indications of enhancement. That’s been the outcome of concentrated work.

“Kep is spending a lot of effort on kind of refining some of his approach-related and intent-related swings,” supervisor Rocco Baldelli stated. “We’ve faced a fair number of lefties early in the year, too, which probably can help drive some of that stuff home. … So we’ve kind of forced him into some types of swings and kind of seeing the ball a little deeper.”

It’s not always a modification in technique, Kepler states. It’s more of what he calls a “controlled aggressiveness” — swinging with intent and with aggressiveness within the strike zone.

“There’s an in-between for me, like a contact and a power swing where you’re trying to drive the ball,” Kepler stated. “Whether you have runners on or not, you’re trying to slug, but I’m not trying to slug and have my head fly out and my shoulder open. I’m trying to slug and make good, solid contact. And also a defensive swing with two strikes, when I’m just trying to put the ball into play, that’s my type of controlled aggressiveness.”

It’s worked up until now — which assisted back another excellent trip from Ryan, who permitted just 2 baserunners through 7 innings as he extended his scoreless streak to 17 innings, the longest by a Twins novice because Andrew Albers started his profession with 17 1/3 scoreless in August 2013.

Ryan’s 9 strikeouts provided him 55 in his profession, breaking Bert Blyleven’s previous franchise record of 50 strikeouts through a Twins/Senators pitcher’s very first 9 video games.

“He’s pitched like an ace to this point,” Baldelli stated. “This is the kind of effort you get from a guy that you turn to do those things.”

The Twins’ beginning rotation now owns a 2.39 PERIOD, the second-best mark through 18 video games in franchise history, behind just the 2.06 period from the 1972 rotation. That’s pressed the Twins to this type of winning streak even when crucial factors like Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco have actually been cold at the plate — and if Kepler’s work continues to settle, that ought to assist, too.

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