Max Kepler returns and so does the Twins' offense in 7-0 win over White Sox

Bobby Nightengale, Star Tribune on

Published in Baseball

MINNEAPOLIS — Max Kepler admitted he had trouble watching the Twins when he was on the injured list, choosing to look at only box scores afterward.

"I can't really watch games because it's too upsetting not being able to help my team win games or even just battle through whatever is going on," he said before Monday's 7-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

Kepler didn't waste any time making the offense look better, bashing a first-pitch changeup to the center field wall for a two-run double in the first inning. Kepler lined an RBI single to center on his second swing, in the third inning, sparking a slumping offense to its highest run total in a nine-inning game in nearly three weeks.

The Twins totaled 11 hits, matching a season high, which included doubles from four separate hitters and a towering seventh-inning solo homer from Edouard Julien.

Whether it was finally a sign of life for the Twins offense, or a result of playing the worst team in the majors, it provided at least a one-day reprieve from thinking about how poorly they've hit this season.

The Twins were hitless in their last 20 at-bats with a runner on second or third base when Kepler connected on his two-run, two-out double in the first inning. Kepler, who was sidelined with a right knee contusion, was 1-for-20 before his stint on the IL.

Kepler has been on the IL seven times in his career. The previous six times, in his first game back, he was a combined 0-for-24 with eight strikeouts and one walk. This time, he chose to take his first rehab assignment since 2021.

"I just wanted to get my footing under me," Kepler said.

The Twins added three more runs in the third inning. After Trevor Larnach drilled an RBI double to center field, Kepler followed with his two-out RBI single and Willi Castro continued the rally with an RBI double to left field.


It was just the second time the Twins scored more than four runs in a game since April 3 — the other one was a 12-inning game — and they had five runs against White Sox starter Jonathan Cannon by the third inning.

Chris Paddack, who entered with an 8.36 ERA, delivered his first seven-inning start since July 2, 2021, overpowering a futile White Sox lineup with fastballs and changeups. He had issues putting away hitters in two-strike counts in his previous three starts, but he was unafraid to challenge White Sox batters over the plate.

Paddack struck out 10 batters, his third career game with a double-digit strikeout total, and he didn't issue a walk.

After Robbie Grossman delivered the first hit off Paddack with a one-out single in the fourth inning, the White Sox loaded the bases with two infield singles. Alex Kirilloff, playing first base, saved at least one run with a diving catch to his right, snaring a line drive that left Andrew Vaughn's bat at 105 mph.

Following the lineout, Paddack struck out Paul DeJong on three pitches to end the inning and leave the bases loaded. Paddack let out a yell after DeJong swung through a 96-mph fastball at the top of the strike zone.

The White Sox, off to a franchise-worst 3-19 start, have been shut out eight times this year — once in each series they've played.


©2024 StarTribune. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus