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Sano, Kepler turnarounds good sign for Twins

Middle-of-the-order hitters break out of slumps, which coincided with team's struggles
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

It's no surprise that as Miguel Sano and Max Kepler fell into slumps in mid-June, the Twins' offense started to stagnate.

Sano and Kepler entered Wednesday's game against the Red Sox hitting .135 and .182, respectively, over their previous 10 games since June 16, but both came through with key hits to lead the Twins to a 4-1 win over Boston at Fenway Park. Sano ripped an RBI double in the first and finished 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while Kepler went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs.

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It's no surprise that as Miguel Sano and Max Kepler fell into slumps in mid-June, the Twins' offense started to stagnate.

Sano and Kepler entered Wednesday's game against the Red Sox hitting .135 and .182, respectively, over their previous 10 games since June 16, but both came through with key hits to lead the Twins to a 4-1 win over Boston at Fenway Park. Sano ripped an RBI double in the first and finished 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored, while Kepler went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBIs.

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The Twins are hopeful the performances will help get the two 24-year-olds back on track, as they remain critical pieces to the middle of the order.

Video: MIN@BOS: Sano doubles down the line to open scoring

"Miggy finally got that big hit," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He's kind of been forcing it a little bit. And Kep sure took advantage of that one."

Sano was mired in a 0-for-16 skid before coming to the plate with Joe Mauer at second and two outs in the first. Sano jumped all over a 2-1 fastball from Rick Porcello, lacing it 111 mph off the bat, according to Statcast™. It was the hardest-hit ball of the night by either team, and a good sign from Sano, who lost seven pounds last weekend after being sick in Cleveland.

Kepler came through with a two-out RBI hit of his own, bringing home Sano with a bloop single to right to give the Twins an early 2-0 lead. It also ended an 0-for-11 funk from Kepler.

Video: MIN@BOS: Kepler fists an RBI single into right-center

"We got a little bit of a break on Kepler's jam shot there," Molitor said. "But the ball hasn't been bouncing our way the past couple of days, so we'll take it."

Kepler doubled the lead with his two-run shot in the sixth. And unlike the blooper in the first, it was crushed, as it had an exit velocity of 108 mph and traveled a projected 409 feet, per Statcast™. It was the ninth homer of the year for Kepler, and his first since June 13.

The homer came after Sano drew a four-pitch walk, and Molitor said it was a lesson for the slugger to be more selective at the plate.

"Miggy was ahead every at-bat tonight," Molitor said. "He got a little over aggressive on three 2-0 counts when he chased offspeed pitches out of the zone. It's not the worst thing; you take advantage of the counts when you can. He's got to understand that people are being careful with you, and you've got to trust the people behind you."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Max Kepler, Miguel Sano