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La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Kepler returns to lineup, hopes to join in Twins' home run spree

    CHICAGO — Max Kepler still wasn’t feeling well when he arrived at Guaranteed Rate Field on Tuesday, but the Twins gave him a saline IV in the trainers’ room. “That made me feel a lot better,” the Twins’ right fielder said. And when he woke up Wednesday morning, he was feeling good and ready to play again.

    “I [got] a heads-up that Max was on the right track,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s excited to be back in there.”

    The Twins are, too, because their lineup is already missing Miguel Sano and Robbie Grossman with injuries. Kepler, who sat out two games with symptoms of either the flu or food poisoning — he’s not sure which — is batting sixth tonight against White Sox righthander James Shields.

    Kepler began to feel lightheaded during Monday’s first game, amid the heat and humidity of Chicago. “I was having trouble with my vision, actually. I took some really awkward swings, which at the time, I was like, ‘Just one of those days,’ “ Kepler said. “When the game ended, I sat down, and I felt really bad. Weak, lightheaded.” And he just got worse during the night.

    He’s anxious to get back, though, to join in a remarkable run of power-hitting by the Twins. Kepler has never hit a home run here, but his Twins teammates have piled up 15 in eight games in Chicago, eight just in the past two days alone.

    “We’re keeping things simple. Just put an easy swing on it. The ball’s coming in at 90-something mph — if you square it up with the barrel, it’ll go a long way,” Kepler said. “It seems like everyone is doing just as much as they have to swing-wise, keeping it simple, not trying to hit it over the fence. It’s awesome to see.”

    Here are the lineups for tonight’s fourth game of the series:

TWINS

 

Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Polanco SS

Rosario LF

Buxton CF

Kepler RF

Vargas DH

Castro C

Escobar 3B

 

Santana RHP

 

WHITE SOX

 

L. Garcia CF

Moncada 2B

Abreu 1B

Delmonico DH

A. Garcia RF

Smith C

Sanchez 3B

Anderson SS

Hanson LF

 

Shields RHP

Vargas knew just what to look for on home run swing

    CHICAGO — A couple of extras from the Twins’ favorite launching pad, where they’ve bashed eight home runs in two nights:

    Kennys Vargas had faced Lucas Giolito a few times before, during his various stints in Triple-A, so he had an idea of what to look for. And when he swung at a pair of change-ups to open his second at-bat on Tuesday, missing a low one and fouling off one in the middle, he believed he knew what was coming next.

    “He threw me two off-speeds in a row, so I was expecting a fastball. I didn’t think he would throw me three off-speed pitches,” Vargas explained. In his previous at-bat, Giolito threw four straight 93-mph fastballs on the inside part of the plate, “so I expected that pitch again.”

    He got it, and the ball traveled more than 400 feet before coming down. It was Vargas’ ninth home run of the season, his first since July 23, and the first of his career on an 0-2 count. “I liked it,” he said with a smile. “Felt pretty good.”

XXX

    It’s hard to believe Eddie Rosario went a solid month without a home run, from the last week of June to the last week of July. On Tuesday, Rosario crushed his seventh home run of August.

    “It’s fun to watch Eddie play the game,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think he’s playing as confidently for as long a stretch as we’ve seen. A bad at-bat doesn’t seem to particularly affect him.”

    The home run came in the sixth inning of a 2-0 game. Joe Mauer led off with a double, and Jorge Polanco — who had homered in three straight games — moved him up with a sacrifice bunt, leaving it to Rosario to bring in another insurance run, perhaps with a fly ball.

    “He tried to get the run in from third. You want to use the middle of the field” in that situation, Molitor said. “Not only did he get the run in, he got himself in,” with a home run to straightaway center, his 18th of the season.

Bottom 2nd R H E
Minnesota 65-60 0 0 0
Chicago White Sox 48-76 0 0 0

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