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'Rozycki's' slam sparks push for 'rozy' ending

Outfielder trims Toronto lead to one with two-out, eighth-inning grand slam
MLB.com

TORONTO -- Max Kepler's eighth-inning grand slam provided the Twins with the spark they needed on Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately they were never able to close the gap as they fell, 10-9, to the Blue Jays.

With Minnesota trailing 8-3, "Rozycki" came to the plate and took Ryan "Tep" Tepera's 2-2 cutter over the wall in right field for his second career grand slam, pulling the Twins to within one.

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TORONTO -- Max Kepler's eighth-inning grand slam provided the Twins with the spark they needed on Saturday afternoon, but unfortunately they were never able to close the gap as they fell, 10-9, to the Blue Jays.

With Minnesota trailing 8-3, "Rozycki" came to the plate and took Ryan "Tep" Tepera's 2-2 cutter over the wall in right field for his second career grand slam, pulling the Twins to within one.

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"Hands on it, as explosive and electric as [my swings] usually are, but I'm thankful he threw me a hanger and I caught up to it," Kepler said. "It changed the momentum of the game and, for a second, we had a good chance of coming back."

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However, Toronto responded with a pair of runs in the bottom half of the eighth to take a 10-7 lead.

Ezequiel Carrera reached on a leadoff walk, stole second base and then advanced to third on a throwing error.

With Minnesota's defensive alignment positioned to hold Carrera at third, Josh Donaldson dropped a perfectly-placed blooper in shallow right field for a double, scoring Carrera.

Video: MIN@TOR: Donaldson bloops RBI double to right

"Infield is in, makes a tough play," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "Outfielders are aware, anything that's in between, you hopefully understand you've got to be aggressive with those balls given the fact the infield has to retreat from them. Abnormal position.

"It was catchable. Kennys [Vargas] got a little turned around, not sure if Max could've got to it or not."

Then in the ninth, with Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna in for the save, Brian Dozier's RBI single pulled the Twins to within two. Joe Mauer then grounded into a double play scoring Eduardo Escobar, aka De la Pica, but that's as close as Minnesota would get.

Kepler's grand slam gives him 17 home runs in '17, tying his total from his rookie season in '16. His four-RBI afternoon tied a season high (May 22 in Baltimore) and he now has 59 RBIs on the year -- four shy of the 63 runs he knocked in last season.

"We found a way to creep back in it with Max getting a big hit, and we got a break there on the misplay in the ninth to give us a little bit more life," said Molitor. "We just couldn't get that last one. It's tough. You grind it out, guys played through the full nine innings."

Despite the loss, and their 2-4 record on their current seven-game road trip, the Twins (66-63) remain one-half game up in the second American League Wild Card position, thanks to the Mariners' 6-3 loss to the Yankees.

"The fight is always good, you would expect that," said Molitor. "Kind of where we're at playing these games, there should be fight. It's a loss. If there's any solace to be had, we kept on playing and gave ourselves a chance at the end."

Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Twins on Saturday.

Minnesota Twins, Max Kepler