Twins outfielder Max Kepler was fantastic in Thursday’s 5-4 win over Cleveland as he went 4-for-4 with three home runs and a walk. There are two ways to look at this performance, and they’re not mutually exclusive. You could say that Kepler had a hell of a night, and you could say that opposing pitcher Trevor Bauer was insistent on serving up meatballs like he worked at a trattoria.
Kepler, the Twins’ leadoff hitter, smacked his first homer two pitches into the game after Bauer threw a changeup on an 0-1 count. Fine, that’s a learning experience, and the damage was only one run. So, what did Bauer do in the second meeting? He decided to throw a slider in pretty much that same spot. Again, gone.
Kepler earned a walk on five pitches in the fifth, but he was back in the seventh to get one more at-bat against the Indians’ starter. As uncomfortable as it may be, let’s get in the mind of Trevor Bauer for a minute. He’s thrown a changeup and a slider down in the zone, and both of those ended up as taters. What if, he must have said to himself, I ignored the pattern and just threw a fastball there. Surely Max Kepler can’t hit a third homer in that spot—ah.
Here is proof of this stubborn, self-undermining behavior (the blue circles are dinger pitches):
At a certain point, persistence becomes stubbornness. Way to suck, Trevor!