Max Kepler hits tying homer, walk-off single in Twins' 6-5 victory over Athletics

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Kepler hit a tying home run in the sixth inning and a walk-off single in the 10th inning to give the Minnesota Twins a 6-5 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

Kepler singled to right off Scott Alexander, driving in Austin Martin from second for Minnesota’s third straight victory. It was the second big hit of the game for Minnesota's right fielder, who tied it at 4 in the sixth off Oakland starter Mitch Spence.

The late-game hit was Kepler’s 10th career walk-off plate appearance, tied with Kent Hrbek for third-most in Minnesota history behind only Kirby Puckett and Harmon Killebrew.

“Special. Honored to be part of that list,” Kepler said. “But we've got a lot of work to do. I'll soak it all in once we're done with the season and the playoffs and what's next.”

Between his home run and his walk-off hit, Kepler was hit in the right elbow with a 99 mph pitch by A's reliever Lucas Erceg. Kepler stayed down for a minute before eventually taking first base.

Two innings later, Kepler was back in the batter's box and delivered as the hero.

“That's a tough at-bat for a lefty, and he went out there and he hit that ball really good and won the game for us," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It's a great opportunity and he took advantage of it."

Twins closer Jhoan Duran (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory. It was his first multi-inning appearance of the season.

Minnesota tied it in the eighth when Carlos Santana drew a bases-loaded walk against Oakland closer Mason Miller. But Minnesota couldn’t push across another run in the inning.

Oakland designated hitter Brent Rooker broke a 4-4 tie with a one-out triple off the right field wall. Rooker’s triple drove in JJ Bleday and came just one inning after Kepler's homer tied the game .

Langeliers and the A’s put up a big first inning against Minnesota starter Simeon Woods Richardson, who walked the first two batters of the game. After Tyler Soderstrom struck out swinging for the second out, Langeliers homered on the first pitch he saw to make it 4-0.

Byron Buxton drove in the Twins' first run of the game with a triple, his third of the year. He and Kepler both broke into the majors in 2015 with Minnesota and are the two longest-tenured Twins on the roster.

“We've been here long enough with just one team, so it's a little bit more special for our brotherhood, whatever you want to call it, for us to do what we did,” Buxton said.

Kepler’s tying homer was his 81st at Target Field, making him the leader at the ballpark.

“Honored, thankful, grateful,” Kepler said. “Living the dream. Thank you to the Minnesota Twins for giving me this opportunity, because it's very generous of them.”


The Twins became the final MLB team to wear their City Connect jerseys. The uniforms celebrate the state’s 10,000 lakes, with blue jerseys and pants accompanied by blue and yellow hats.

The Twins will also wear them Saturday against Oakland, as well as a handful of additional games this season.


RHP Joey Estes (2-2, 4.78 ERA) was set to start Saturday for Oakland against RHP Bailey Ober (5-4, 5.13).



Tyler Mason, The Associated Press