Sano, Kepler form powerful duo for Twins

April 13th, 2017

DETROIT -- As the Twins bats came alive during Thursday's 11-5 win in Detroit, third baseman and outfielder Max Kepler sent friendly reminders that they can combine to form a duo with a lot of potential power in the middle of the Twins' lineup.

They each hit a three-run home run on Thursday to bolster their early season numbers. While neither player was necessarily slumping, both seemed to get off to a bit of a shaky start this season. Their bombs on Thursday provided a little jolt to their stats, and manager Paul Molitor is encouraged by what the duo could mean to the club.

While Sano and Kepler are both young -- 23 and 24 years old, respectively -- both figure to play big roles in the middle of the Twins lineup, hitting back-to-back in the order.

"I think we have a chance to compete very well offensively, and those two guys [are] young players that still might be a little bit susceptible to the streakiness that young players have to fight through," Molitor said. "One of the things that we have to be patient with is that we have a lot of young guys in key spots in the lineup, and we're going to have to go through that. But they show you what they can do when they're swinging the bats well."

Sano has three home runs through the first nine games of the season and appears to be on track to be the same type of power hitter he was in his first two seasons in the Majors, when he hit 43 homers, 25 of which came in 2016. His strength was on full display in Detroit as his homer went 440 feet into the shrubbery in dead center field, according to Statcast™.

Kepler had 17 homers last year and now has two on the young season. He said it felt great to hit his second of the year on Thursday in Detroit, which went 422 feet with an exit velocity of 107.9 MPH, according to Statcast™.

Aside from keeping their power numbers up, the youngsters will need to learn to go with the ebbs and flows of a Major League season, as they displayed Thursday after losing three of their previous four games.

"Nothing changes," Kepler said. "If we win seven, lose seven, nothing changes."

The Twins showed a lot of patience at the plate throughout the three-game series in Detroit, and have done so for much of the season. That could be key for Minnesota, especially with young guys like Sano and Kepler playing big roles.

"You look across the board, we've really had some good at-bats by everyone, even the young guys, and that's important moving forward," designated hitter Robbie Grossman said.