MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout the course of his career, David Price's changeup has been one of the more effective weapons in the five-time All-Star's arsenal.On Wednesday, Max Kepler jumped all over the pitch for a go-ahead two-run homer and helped push the Twins to a 4-1 win over Price and the
MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout the course of his career, David Price's changeup has been one of the more effective weapons in the five-time All-Star's arsenal.
On Wednesday, Max Kepler jumped all over the pitch for a go-ahead two-run homer and helped push the Twins to a 4-1 win over Price and the Red Sox at Target Field.
Kepler turned on Price's 1-2 changeup in the bottom of the fourth and sent it a projected 384 feet, per Statcast™, into the right-field bleachers to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead it would not surrender. It was Kepler's first long ball since May 25 and his eighth of the season
With his starting right fielder hitting just .137 and slugging .157 in June entering Tuesday, Twins manager Paul Molitor gave Kepler a day off. The 25-year-old responded in a big way 24 hours later.
"[Kepler] has been getting after it pretty aggressively in his batting practice just trying to make some adjustments," Molitor said. "We all saw him pushing the ball out to left field a little too frequently when we know he can turn on balls. I think he's been trying to get that aggressive mindset back. You get a little passive at times, and next thing you know you're hitting behind in the count all the time. I think he's good when he's aggressive. I think he's got a good eye, but you want to see that mentality of ready to hit."
That homer marked the rare instance that Price's changeup has been hit hard this year. Entering Wednesday, opposing batters were hitting just .246 with a .263 slugging percentage and just one extra-base hit off the pitch this season. The last homer off Price's changeup came from Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez on June 8, 2017.
"[Price] loves going inside with the two-seam on lefties," Kepler said. "I just had a feeling. I rolled over on the first two and he was going to come back in there. So I kept my hands in, did some damage."
Robbie Grossman, who was in the leadoff spot while Joe Mauer received a scheduled rest day, got the Twins' offense going early when he homered to left-center in the first inning. It was Grossman's first homer of his career while batting out of the leadoff spot.
The pair of homers gave Minnesota starter Lance Lynn all the offensive support he needed. Boston put runners in scoring position against Lynn in all five of his innings, but the righty worked out of numerous jams.
The Red Sox tallied their lone run of the game off Lynn when Mitch Moreland led off the second inning with a walk and later scored on a Logan Morrison throwing error.
In the fourth, the Red Sox threatened again when Moreland knocked a leadoff single and Rafael Devers followed with a walk. But Lynn got Brock Holt to roll into a 4-6-3 double play and then struck out Christian Vazquez to diffuse the threat.
"Command was really not there," Lynn said. "But I was able to make pitches with runners in scoring position and not give up a bunch of runs. With this offense we have, you keep them to one run, we're going to win the games more times than not. I was able to make pitches even though I got myself in some jams with some walks. Big pitches, and when I needed to, getting ground balls and getting out of it."
Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed and Trevor Hildenberger each tossed a scoreless inning in relief of Lynn before Fernando Rodney worked a perfect ninth for his 16th save. Reed's appearance was his first since June 13.
With its victory, Minnesota clinched a series win over the Red Sox. That marks the second straight series that it has won against a top team in the American League, as the Twins took two of three against the Indians over the weekend.
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In the top of the eighth, Kepler made a full-extension diving catch to rob J.D. Martinez of a hit for the second out of the inning. Kepler needed to go 57 feet in 3.4 seconds in order to make the play, making it a five-star catch, per Statcast™. With a 4 percent catch probability, it was the lowest-probability catch by a Twins player in 2018.
Second-base umpire Scott Barry initially ruled that Kepler trapped the ball, but the Minnesota right fielder immediately jumped up and contested the call. The Twins challenged, and after a brief replay review, the call was overturned and ruled a catch.
The Twins will close out their three-game set with the Red Sox at 12:10 p.m. CT on Thursday aiming to complete the sweep. Kyle Gibson will get the start for the Twins looking to notch his second consecutive win and third of the season. He will face off with Boston righty Rick Porcello, who is 6-3 with a 3.24 ERA in 12 career starts at Target Field.
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Minneapolis.