Kepler homers again, Twins hang on to beat Indians 10-6
CLEVELAND (AP) Paul Molitor has learned a major league manager can never relax.
Molitor watched his Minnesota team nearly blow an eight-run lead before the Twins hung on to beat the Cleveland Indians 10-6 Tuesday night.
''I'm not sure exactly how to verbalize what transpired there,'' he said. ''It was a good tester for our guys and we found a way to win.''
Minnesota rookie Max Kepler homered for the fourth time in two games. He hit his fourth two-run drive of the series in the third inning, two batters after Brian Dozier's two-run shot.
The Twins also scored four times in the fourth against Carlos Carrasco (7-5).
Any notion the Twins would cruise to a win ended when the Indians scored six times in the fifth and chased starter Kyle Gibson, who took an 8-0 lead into the inning.
Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli each hit a two-run homer. Francisco Lindor had an RBI single before Lonnie Chisenhall's RBI double finished Gibson.
''I don't know if I ever saw it quite this way,'' Molitor said. ''You always imagine worst-case scenarios and how to be prepared. When the Indians get things going they can score in a hurry just like a lot of teams, so you're always guarded.''
Ryan Pressly (6-5), who retired Napoli with two on to end the sixth, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
Gibson was three outs from qualifying for what appeared to be an easy win, but Cleveland sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth. Gibson allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings.
''I'm not really sure what happened, honestly,'' he said.
Minnesota, in last place in the AL Central, is 7-4 against first-place Cleveland this season. The loss narrowed Cleveland's lead over Detroit to three games.
''I don't know what they do against everyone else, but they've played us pretty darn well,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said.
Kepler, born in Germany, hit a trio of two-run homers with six RBIs in Monday's 12-5 win. He walked three times Tuesday and leads AL rookies in homers (15) and RBIs (46).
''Another good night,'' Molitor said. ''His swing's locked in. It's fun to watch a young kid figure things out.''
Eduardo Escobar hit a two-run homer for Minnesota in the ninth. Dozier had three RBIs and Miguel Sano added a two-run double.
Joe Mauer, who had four hits Monday, doubled twice and drove in a run.
Carrasco allowed a career-high eight runs in 3 2/3 innings on a tough day for Cleveland's rotation. Danny Salazar was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation.
Napoli's home run traveled an estimated 454 feet and landed three rows from the top of the bleachers in left field.
Kepler, who lives in Berlin, was deluged with congratulatory texts about Monday's performance. ''I enjoyed all the attention and the love from my family and friends,'' he said before Tuesday's game. ''I'm going to try my best to represent European baseball with honor.''
Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe (broken left rib), on the disabled list since July 2, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.
Indians: RHP Tommy Hunter (broken vertebrae) threw off a mound. He's been on the 15-day DL since July 17.
Twins: RHP Tyler Duffey is 0-2 with a 27.00 ERA over his last two starts. He allowed five runs in a career-low 1 1/3 innings against Atlanta on July 27.
Indians: RHP Trevor Bauer will face Minnesota for the 10th time in his career. He is 1-4 with a 5.01 ERA in 55 2/3 innings against the Twins.