Players like to duck into the video room to watch replays of their at-bats. And that’s where Max Kepler and Miguel Sano were in the seventh inning on Saturday when Sano turned to Kepler.
“So seven RBI?” Sano said. “I got eight last year.”
Kepler thought he was one away from the Twins’ rookie record for one game when he returned to the dugout.
“Someone said, ‘You got the record,’ ” Kepler said. “I was like, ‘No, it’s Sano.’ They said, ‘No, he’s lying. He can’t count.’ ”
The correct answer is, indeed, seven. And, on a day full of good days, Kepler had the best of them all on Saturday as the Twins rolled over the Texas Rangers 17-5.
He blasted two three-run homers and picked up another RBI on a fielder’s choice. Sano drove in six last year as a rookie, just as Oswaldo Arcia did in 2013 and Tony Oliva in 1964.
“I’m honored today to have achieved something like that,” Kepler said. “Let’s keep it going.”
Kepler helped the Twins achieve their highest run total since they scored 20 against the Tigers on Aug. 22, 2014. They scored at least three runs in each of the first three innings, then dropped six runs on the Rangers in the fifth to take a 13-run lead.
Things got so bad for the Rangers that they had to turn to backup catcher Bryan Holaday and his knuckler to get them through the final 1 ⅓ innings.
Eduardo Nunez had his fourth four-hit game of the season, and Sano also homered and drove in three.
Twins righthander Tyler Duffey (4-6) wasn’t sharp, giving up four runs over six innings, but who could blame him? He had to sit through long innings and had leeway to put the ball over the plate, given such a lead.
“We’ll take the win,” manager Paul Molitor said. “One run, lopsided. We need to get them when we can. Hopefully it’s a sign of something good for our offense.”
The Twins are seeing more encouraging signs from Kepler, who has hit all five of his homers and has 20 RBI over his past 19 games. One reason the Twins are backing off the Sano experiment in right field is because Kepler has been holding down that position.
Three defensive mishaps by the Rangers in the first inning allowed the Twins to take a 4-0 lead. Kepler hit his first home run in the second inning off Rangers lefthanded reliever Cesar Ramos. Sano’s two-run shot was part of a four-run third.
Then Kepler struck again in the fifth, ripping a breaking ball from righthander Luke Jackson over the overhang in right, making the score 17-4.
“I think it bodes well for where he’s at mentally,” Molitor said. “He’s still learning. He’s got a lot of skills, and we’re going to keep trying to find ways to polish it up.”
The best part of Saturday for Kepler was that his mother, Kathy Kepler, and father, Marek Rozycki, watched the game live from Berlin, where they work. They caught a good game.
“I knew my parents were watching today,” said Kepler, who was born in Berlin. “They got work off and were able to sit down and watch the game for once. Not like at 4 a.m. in the morning.’’