Kepler hits slam, Urshela and Twins walk off Tigers 5-4

May 23, 2022, 8:14 AM | Updated: 9:21 pm
Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela, center, is congratulated by teammates for a game-winning...

Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela, center, is congratulated by teammates for a game-winning RBI as Detroit Tigers first baseman Spencer Torkelson (20) leaves the field in conclusion of the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, May 23, 2022, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

(AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Max Kepler hit an early grand slam, and Gio Urshela’s infield single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Urshela hit a grounder toward Tigers shortstop Javier Báez, who couldn’t make a play. That allowed Kepler — who launched his slam in the first inning — to score the winning run.

“He’s not going up there trying to maybe hit one in the second deck. He’s trying to do something else,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said of Urshela. “It was just a find-a-way kind of game, and he found a way.”

Urshela’s teammates mobbed him on the field after his game-ending hit, the third of his career.

It’s the second time this season the Twins have walked off the Tigers at Target Field. Minnesota won in walk-off fashion on a bizarre series of plays April 26 against Detroit.

Emilio Pagan (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win. Andrew Chafin (0-1) took the loss.

It was the second day in a row that Urshela drove in the deciding run. His single in the top of the ninth Sunday against Kansas City lifted the Twins to a 7-6 comeback win.

“I’m just trying to do it every day,” Urshela said. “I’m coming here every day to win games.”

Kepler opened the scoring with his third career slam, and the third of the year for the Twins. He took Elvin Rodriguez deep to right field to give Minnesota a 4-0 lead in the first.

It was just the second major league appearance and first start for Rodriguez. The right-hander rebounded after his shaky first inning and allowed just one more hit through the next four innings.

“It was a tough start for us,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “I thought we outplayed them other than the first inning and the last inning.”

Minnesota’s offense went quiet after Kepler’s grand slam. The Twins had just one hit through the next six innings, and the Tigers tied the game in the seventh.

Twins starter Chris Archer allowed just one run but lasted only four innings. The veteran right-hander has not pitched deeper than 4 1/3 innings in any of his eight starts this year.

Luis Arraez reached base four times for the Twins, including hits in the fifth and eighth. He’s batting .349, fourth-best in the majors.

“What he does at the plate is beyond the realm of where any of the rest of us live,” Baldelli said. “I’m glad we’re able to send him up there five times a night to do the damage that he does.”

Kepler’s grand slam was the 1,000th home run hit by the Twins at Target Field since the stadium opened in 2010.

MOVING UP THE LIST

With a first-inning single, Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera picked up his 3,023rd career hit, tying Lou Brock for 28th in MLB history. Cabrera also got career hit No. 3,024 with a seventh-inning RBI single.

“Obviously, everything he’s accomplished in his career is amazing, so it’s just fun to go out there and play with a guy like that,” Archer said.

Rod Carew is next on the list with 3,053 hits.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Matt Manning (right shoulder inflammation) will make one more rehab start Tuesday for Triple-A Toledo. … RHP Will Vest (COVID-19 IL) is asymptomatic but has not passed his first COVID-19 test yet, Hinch said.

UP NEXT

RHP Beau Brieske (0-3, 5.13 ERA) will make his sixth career start Tuesday in search of his first win. The Twins counter with RHP Sonny Gray (1-1, 3.48), who earned his first win of the year in his last start against Oakland.

___

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