The Minnesota Twins are socking dingers at a historic pace, and the individual that is currently leading everyone on the roster in that stat is Max Kepler. With that knowledge, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that he added a couple more in a 6-2 win over the Indians on Saturday, especially when you consider that he was up against Trevor Bauer. See, Kepler has kind of served as Bauer’s pitching kryptonite as of late and, after knocking a 79-mph knuckle curve over the right centerfield wall in the top of the second, officially made it five straight plate appearances against the Cleveland pitcher with a home run.
Kepler joins Carlos Delgado and Frank Howard as the only players in the Expansion Era to have matched this exact feat, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Delgado’s victim was Jorge Sosa, while Howard’s was Bob Hendley. Where Kepler stands out is with the fact that this streak all happened in one season, while the other two men needed to break up their accomplishment over two separate years—’03-04 for Delgado, ‘63-64 for Howard.
For someone who’s been thoroughly dominating one of the more, let’s say, outspoken players in the league, Kepler has been relatively subdued in his remarks about his performances.
“I just try and time a guy and stay as balanced as possible,” Kepler said. “And sometimes, you know you’re off-balance. People make mistakes and the best hitters can simplify. Like [Mike] Trout, he’s always [balanced], it looks like. I was balanced today.”
“There’s some days when you see it great right when you step in the box,” Kepler said. “Some days, you don’t. It’s something that I’m learning how to bat leadoff better with. But some days, I feel antsy and like I’m jumping the gun. Today, I felt calm and I let the ball come to me. It went my way.”
Maybe the respectful attitude comes from some intrinsic sense of humility that’s been part of his personality for all of his life, or maybe it’s because he knows that this performance doesn’t quite match up to the last one he had against Bauer, where he went 4-for-4 with three straight homers. Thankfully, Twins manager Rocco Baldellli was able to describe what Kepler has done to Bauer with a bit more accurate perspective.
“It’s unfathomable that it is happening in front of our eyes,” Baldelli told MLB.com. “I was going to say that I don’t think any of us had seen anything like it. Come to find out, nobody has seen anything like it.”