Max Kepler recorded his second career three-homer performance at Progressive Field as the visiting Minnesota Twins averted a series sweep with a 5-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
Kepler, who was mired in a career-worst 0-for-21 slump, led off the game with homer, added a two-run shot in the third inning, walked in the fifth and started the seventh with a towering blast to center field. The 26-year-old also belted three homers in Cleveland on Aug. 1, 2016.
In the ninth inning, Kepler hit an infield single to finish 4-for-4.
Mitch Garver ripped an RBI double, and Jose Berrios (8-2) tossed six-plus strong innings for the Twins, who prevented both their first three-game losing streak and sweep of the season.
Cleveland’s Roberto Perez homered in his third straight game to extend his career-high homer total to 10 on the season.
Tyler Naquin had an RBI single, Perez added a sacrifice fly, and rookie Oscar Mercado belted a pinch-hit homer with two outs in the ninth. However, Minnesota’s Taylor Rogers induced Perez to ground out to secure his sixth save of the season.
Kepler began the fireworks on the game’s second pitch, depositing an 0-1 changeup from Trevor Bauer (4-6) over the wall in right field.
After Willians Astudillo singled to lead off the third, Kepler sent a 1-2 slider just inside the right field foul pole for a two-run shot.
Minnesota seized a 4-0 lead in the fifth when Garver’s double to left field plated Jorge Polanco, but Perez trimmed the deficit back to three runs by sending a first-pitch fastball from Berrios over the wall in right-center in the bottom of the inning.
Kepler belted his third homer of the night and 15th of the season by jumping on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh inning.
Berrios’ night ended after Jose Ramirez reached on an error by Jonathan Schoop to lead off the seventh inning. Ramirez came around to score following a four-pitch walk from reliever Matt Magill and an RBI single by Naquin.
Berrios allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and one walk. He struck out six while improving to 5-2 in nine career starts vs. Cleveland. Berrios scattered two hits and struck out a season-high 10 batters in 7 2/3 innings of a 2-0 victory over the Indians on March 28.
Bauer allowed five runs on five hits and three walks in eight innings. He fanned seven.
—Field Level Media