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Kepler, Grossman rally Twins past O's in 7th

July 28, 2016

MINNESOTA -- When the Twins and Orioles were originally scheduled to play on May 9 before the game was rained out, neither Robbie Grossman nor Max Kepler were on Minnesota's roster. Baltimore likely wishes it stayed that way, as the pair combined to reach base safely seven times and score

MINNESOTA -- When the Twins and Orioles were originally scheduled to play on May 9 before the game was rained out, neither Robbie Grossman nor Max Kepler were on Minnesota's roster. Baltimore likely wishes it stayed that way, as the pair combined to reach base safely seven times and score four runs to lift Minnesota to a 6-2 win in Thursday's makeup game at Target Field.
Grossman, who didn't join the Twins until May 19 and has been one of the club's biggest surprises, went 2-for-3 with two walks and helped spark a four-run seventh inning with a one-out double. Kepler, in the midst of a breakout rookie season since being called up on June 1 after a short stint with the club early this year, went 2-for-3 with a walk and a game-tying solo homer in the sixth.
The Twins broke the game open against Baltimore's bullpen in their four-run seventh, with Brian Dozier providing the go-ahead RBI single to score Grossman with one out, knocking reliever Odrisamer Despaigne from the game. Right-hander Chaz Roe replaced Despaigne, but he gave up an RBI single to Kepler and a two-run triple to Eddie Rosario.

"Kepler's home run was a boost and got us back to even, which got us a little more life," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We found a way to add on there with some big hits with Dozier, Kepler and then Rosario finding a way to hit one over [Adam] Jones' head."
Neither starting pitcher figured into the decision, but both Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez and Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson fared well. Jimenez, making his first start since July 8, went five innings, giving up one run on five hits with eight strikeouts. The lone run he allowed came on an RBI triple from Joe Mauer in the first.
"That splitter was good and he was crisp, and he's pitched seven times here and pitched well just about every time, so we felt it was a good matchup coming in," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We just didn't seize all of our opportunities."
Gibson was plagued by a leadoff homer from Adam Jones on his first pitch of the night, but settled down from there. The sinkerballer went six frames, surrendering two runs on nine hits with six strikeouts. The Orioles also scored in the fourth on a two-out RBI single from former Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Twins get two at the plate: The Orioles ran themselves into two outs at home in the fourth inning, as they had three singles and a double, but came away with only one run. Chris Davis led off the frame with a single and went to third on a double from Mark Trumbo. Davis tried to score on a grounder hit to third baseman Eduardo Escobar, but Escobar was able to throw him out at home. Pedro Álvarez followed with a single to right, but Kepler threw out Trumbo as he tried to score from second. Kepler's throw was 92.5 mph and traveled 175 feet, per Statcast™.
"They made good plays," said Showalter, who didn't think his team was being too aggressive. "We've been scuffling to score runs. You take an opportunity to score like that any time."

In the blink of an eye: Jones didn't waste any time getting Baltimore on the board, sending the game's first pitch from Gibson into the left-field seats for his 19th homer of the season and his third career leadoff long ball. The homer was only Jones' fifth extra-base hit of the month. It was the fourth time this season a Twins pitcher had allowed a homer on the first pitch of the game. Gibson had also allowed a leadoff homer in his last start to Mookie Betts of the Red Sox.
"I'm going to have to start throwing first-pitch offspeed or something," Gibson said with a smile. "It's getting ridiculous. Maybe throw the first batter all offspeed."

Max power: After Jimenez exited, Kepler promptly tied it up with a solo shot in the sixth off Despaigne. It was the 11th homer of the year for the rookie, and his first since July 20. The blast came on a 2-2 slider. He later added an RBI single in the seventh to give Minnesota an insurance run.
"I like how he's making adjustments to how he's being pitched," Molitor said. "People try to tie him up inside. He got a cutter in there pretty good but was able to get his hands through and hit one out of the park."

Ubaldo's home away from home: Making his first start in three weeks after a forgettable first half, Jimenez looked like a completely different pitcher in Minneapolis, allowing one run on five hits and striking out eight in five innings. That shouldn't come as a surprise: Jimenez is 4-1 with a 1.81 ERA in seven career starts at Target Field. His eight strikeouts were his most since he punched out nine on April 7 -- also against the Twins.
"I really needed this," Jimenez said. "Like I said, it's been a long time since I've faced hitters, and it felt great to be out there and be with my teammates. That's what we play for -- to be out there and try to compete and win every night. We didn't get a win, but we have to move on. It felt really good." More >

"It's tough. The Minnesota Twins are a great organization. They have great people. They made me feel like I was at home. They made me feel like I was here longer than I really was."
-- Twins shortstop Eduardo Núñez, on being traded to the Giants after the game for left-handed pitching prospect Adalberto Mejía More >
Orioles: Right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-7, 3.77 ERA) will take the mound for Baltimore to open a three-game series in Toronto at 7:07 p.m. ET on Friday night. Gausman twirled seven shutout innings on Saturday against the Indians, allowing four hits and striking out seven in a 5-2 Orioles victory.
Twins: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco (4-8, 5.40 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the series opener against the White Sox at Target Field on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Nolasco was roughed up last time out, lasting a season-low two innings and allowing six runs on six hits against the Red Sox on Saturday.
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Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](** and listen to his podcast.

Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for and covered the Orioles on Thursday.