Eins, zwei, drei! German-born Kepler hits 3 HRs for Twins
CLEVELAND (AP) Max Kepler is powering his way into Rookie of the Year consideration.
The German-born outfielder had three two-run homers and six RBIs, leading Minnesota to a 12-5 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
Kepler became the fifth Twin ever and first since Justin Morneau in 2007 to homer three times in a game.
''It's a good feeling,'' he said. ''I was ecstatic. I've had two before in the minors and once up here. I was real excited.''
Kepler homered off All-Star Danny Salazar in the first and third innings and hit another off Cody Anderson in the sixth. His was the 12th three-homer game in the majors this season.
Kepler singled in the ninth off Zach McAllister to raise his average to .256. He began the season at Rochester but leads AL rookies in homers (14) and RBIs (44). He has homered 13 times and driven in 37 runs since June 19.
Salazar (11-4) lost for the first time since May 22 and will undergo an MRI on his right elbow Tuesday. He allowed three homers and was charged with six runs in two innings, the shortest outing of his career.
Joe Mauer had four hits and homered in the eighth off Andrew Miller, who was making his first appearance with Cleveland after being acquired Sunday from the Yankees.
Jose Berrios (2-1) retired 15 straight after a three-run first inning. The rookie right-hander, recalled from Triple-A Rochester before the game, allowed four hits in six innings.
Miller received a standing ovation from the crowd of 15,018 when he ran in from the bullpen. He retired Kepler on a groundout, the only other batter he faced.
Kepler had two chances for a fourth home run, but said that wasn't on his mind when he batted in the eighth and ninth.
''I wasn't trying for home runs,'' he said. ''I never do.''
''You don't see three home runs all the time,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''It's fun to watch. He does a really nice job. Those balls basically are line drives that went really far.''
Mike Napoli hit a two-run homer in the eighth for the Indians, whose lead in the AL Central over idle Detroit was cut to four games. Minnesota is 6-4 this season against Cleveland.
Eddie Rosario led off the second with a home run. Jorge Polanco had a three-run triple in the third and tripled again in the fifth.
Salazar didn't pitch in the All-Star Game because the Indians wanted to rest his arm. He has allowed 10 runs in six innings over his last two outings.
While manager Terry Francona doesn't think Salazar looks hurt, the pitcher wants to get it checked out.
''It's been there for a while but it's getting worse,'' Salazar said. ''I want to find out what's going on so I know what's in there.''
START THEM UP
The Twins took the opener of the four-game series with 19 hits, matching a season high.
''We play a game that's unpredictable in a lot of ways,'' Molitor said. ''You come in here and face a team that's hot. You get a guy like Salazar out there facing a kid that just got called up. Circumstances don't look particularly bright, but you go play.''
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (right knee) is considered day-to-day after an MRI revealed no damage beyond an existing bone bruise.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson went six innings and allowed two runs in his last start, a July 28 no-decision against Baltimore.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco is scheduled to make his 100th career start. He is 5-2 with a 1.61 ERA in his last eight outings.