Max Kepler hits walk-off, saves Twins after blowing seven-run lead

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The Twins hung an eight-spot in the bottom of the fourth inning against Astros starter Lance McCullers, two of which scored on a Max Kepler home run, to take an 8-1 lead. But the Twins watched that seven-run lead evaporate as the Astros scored four runs in the fifth and one in the sixth, then rallied for two more runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game.

Kepler saved the Twins in the bottom of the ninth, drilling a 3-2 slider from Brad Peacock into the stands in right field for a walk-off solo home run, his second dinger of the day.

According to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, Twins manager Paul Molitor was talking extra-innings strategy with his coaches when Kepler hit his walk-off home run. Kepler didn’t want to see the game go into extras.

Kepler is now batting .281/.395/.625 with three home runs, five RBI, and four runs scored in 38 plate appearances on the season.

The Twins, now 6-4, won two of three games against the defending World Series champions. They went 1-5 against them last year.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.