Max Kepler is using this homestand to turn things around. The Twins right fielder returned to Target Field batting .165 with only three extra-base hits over his previous 24 games.
"He needs a pat on the back probably, just reassurance," manager Paul Molitor said. "Sometimes he gets into — when it is not going well — he gets a little more cautious. Tries to play it a little safer, whether it is on the bases or defensively.
"We talked collectively and with Max at times, just trust in your ability, and if you make a good decision and it doesn't work out, no one is going to be critical of that. I'd rather see the guy make the aggressive play rather than the tentative play."
Hitting coach James Rowson added that Kepler has been overthinking things of late and should just relax and look for a good pitch to drive.
"I think that it is important in those moments, to go back and think about what makes you good," Rowson said. "Try to free up your mind rather than add things that can clog things up."
Consider Kepler unclogged. He had two hits Thursday against Baltimore and a two-run homer Friday. On Saturday, he hammered a 2-0 fastball clocked at 96 miles per hour from Kevin Gausman for his 10th homer of the season, beginning the Twins' comeback in their 5-4 victory.
It was the fifth time Kepler has homered in back-to-back games. Molitor said it was a good sign that the 25-year-old drove the ball to just left of center field.
"After a little bit of a tough trip, he's had some pretty good games here where he's contributed," Molitor said. "It's just that confidence thing. He's still a relatively young kid; we'll try to keep steering him forward. There's going to be some downturns, and hopefully some upturns as well. It's been a nice start to the series for him."
Gibson gets No. 3
Kyle Gibson says he is not hung up on his victory total. But he began the day with a 3.58 ERA and only two victories in 17 starts.
And things didn't look good early when the righthander put his team in a 3-0 hole in the first inning, with two runs coming on a home run from .155-hitting Chris Davis. But he proceeded to complete seven innings and the Twins rallied, giving Gibson his first home victory of the season.
"I just tried to keep executing pitches," he said. "You can't let one swing or a couple batters get you out of your game plan. I feel like we had a good game plan. Sometimes when you give up a few runs early, it kind of pushes you out of your game plan, but you've got to have conviction in it."
Molitor has shown increased confidence in Gibson, who has thrown at least seven innings five times — all coming May 29 and later. He is 2-2 with a no-decision in those games. He has thrown at least 100 pitches in five of his past six outings, including a career-high 118 on June 9 in a 2-1 loss to the Angels.
• The Twins, looking for help at Class AAA Rochester, acquired veteran minor league outfielder Jon Kemmer from Houston for cash considerations.
Kemmer, 27, was batting .254 with 13 home runs and 44 RBI at Class AAA Fresno. He was drafted by the Astros in the 21st round in 2013 and has yet to play in the majors.
To make room for Kemmer, first baseman/designated hitter Chris Carter was released. Carter, who hit an NL-best 41 home runs for Milwaukee only two years ago, was acquired from the Angels on May 22 but hit .187 with seven homers and 15 RBI in 36 games for the Red Wings.
• Class AA Chattanooga infielder Sean Miller was suspended 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. In 46 games with the Lookouts, Miller, 23, is batting .220 with a homer and eight RBI. He was selected by the Twins in the 10th round of the 2015 draft out of South Carolina-Aiken.