MINNEAPOLIS -- Max Kepler's mother, Kathy, didn't have the heart to tell her son her flight had been delayed on Thursday and she had missed his game.But after she endured a nine-hour layover and a 5 a.m. flight departure to make sure she arrived in Minneapolis in time for Friday's
MINNEAPOLIS -- Max Kepler's mother, Kathy, didn't have the heart to tell her son her flight had been delayed on Thursday and she had missed his game.
But after she endured a nine-hour layover and a 5 a.m. flight departure to make sure she arrived in Minneapolis in time for Friday's first pitch, Max made sure his mother's trip from Berlin was one to remember.
Kepler crushed a 427-foot, two-run homer in the fourth inning to highlight a Minnesota offensive outburst as the Twins topped the Orioles, 6-2, at Target Field.
"That one was for me," Kathy Kepler said, smiling as she and her husband Marek watched from their seats behind home plate.
Kepler's parents live in Berlin but make an effort to travel to the U.S. at least once per season to watch Max play. Max's father had arrived in Minneapolis on July 4, but Kathy was visiting family in Fort Myers, Fla., and planned to get in a day later.
Her Thursday departing flight was delayed, though, and eventually canceled. She ended up staying overnight at Southwest Florida International Airport before taking the earliest available flight into Minneapolis on Friday morning.
Both jet-lagged and weary-eyed, Kepler's parents found plenty of energy when their son smashed his first homer since June 20.
"I was expecting to see her after yesterday's game, and she wasn't there," Max said. "I got the news that they had some flight difficulties and she got stuck overnight. But I was playing yesterday, in my mind, that my mom is here and it's good. It gives me a little bit of a boost, you know? Having gone through a little bit of a struggle lately, that my parents are [here] and they supply that energy."
The Twins jumped on Baltimore's Dylan Bundy for three runs in the first inning and tacked on three more in the fourth to chase the Baltimore starter. The Twins led off the first with three straight singles, and James Dozier's liner to left gave the Twins a 2-0 lead before Bundy had secured an out.
Before the Twins went to work at the plate, though, the game nearly took on a very different tone. Orioles third baseman Timothy Beckham jumped on the first pitch of the game from Minnesota starter Lance Lynn and drilled it on a rope to dead center. But Jake Cave made a leaping catch at the wall to pull back what would have been a homer.
"One pitch, one out," Lynn said. "That's a heck of a catch. I definitely didn't want to start the game by giving up a solo home run. One heck of a play, and I was able to get into a rhythm after that."
After Cave's defensive gem, Lynn settled right in. He tossed six innings of one-run baseball and struck out three. He ran into some trouble in the sixth inning when he surrendered a leadoff walk to Manny Machado and then gave up back-to-back singles to Mark Trumbo and Chris Davis for the first Baltimore run of the game.
But after a Twins mound visit, Lynn buckled down and rolled Jonathan Schoop into a double play, and then, on his 105th and final pitch of the night, got Trey Mancini to ground out to end the inning.
"It looks like he's really got command of his fastball," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said of Lynn. "He can notch it up when he needs to. We saw the velocity when he reached back and hit the mid-90's. It was just a good effort overall. I was kinda hoping he would get a little bit deeper; went through a long inning there in the sixth. But to minimize there, after they had something going, to one run was pretty impressive."
While Lynn held the Orioles in check, the Minnesota offense continued to give him support. Jorge Polanco laid down a drag bunt on a 2-0 count in the fourth inning to beat a heavy infield shift, and Kepler followed with his scorching homer that landed in the upper deck in right-center field.
"That was so great," Kathy Kepler said. "We were just so happy we could be here for him and see this."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Orioles cut into Minnesota's lead in the seventh inning when Caleb Joseph scored on a Logan Morrison throwing error, and it appeared they were set to trim the Twins' lead even thinner. Machado roped a single to shallow left field that sent Beckham sprinting home, but Eddie Rosario came up throwing and delivered a strike to gun down Beckham for the second out of the inning.
The Twins will continue their four-game set with the Orioles on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT. Minnesota will send Kyle Gibson to the mound in search of his third win of the season. The 30-year-old righty held the Brewers to three runs over five innings his last time out on July 2. For Baltimore, Kevin Gausman (4-6, 4.05 ERA) will get the nod.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.