Twins' best long-ball moments in their homer-happy season

There it is! Or, rather, there it goes! The Minnesota Twins blasted their way into the record books Saturday night, hitting their 263rd, 264th, 265th, 266th, 267th and 268th home runs of the season, breaking the single-season record of 267 set by the New York Yankees way back in … 2018.

In a game that perhaps perfectly sums up the entire barrage of home runs in 2019, the Twins lost 10-7 to the Tigers, however. It was the first time in franchise history the Twins hit five home runs in a game and lost — they had been 49-0. (They’re not alone in this category this season. Ten other teams have hit at least five home runs and lost, and two of those hit six.)

While it’s not a surprise the Yankees’ record failed to last, no one would have predicted in March that the Twins would be the first team to beat it. They hit 166 home runs in 2018, ranking just 12th in the American League. Eddie Rosario led the team with 24. This year, they already have six players with at least 24 home runs: Max Kepler (36), Nelson Cruz (34), Rosario (27), Miguel Sano (26), Mitch Garver (26) and C.J. Cron (24). With 27 games to play, the Twins are on pace for 321 home runs — nearly doubling their total from last season.

In honor of the record-breaking night, let’s look at back at the Twins’ top 10 home run highlights on the season … so far:

April 9: Mitch Garver homers twice off Jacob deGrom

Believe it or not, the Twins hit only one home run in their first five games. They then hit six in three games against the Phillies, and broke out against an unlikely pitcher when they hit six home runs in a 14-8 win over the Mets — three of those coming off deGrom (who entered the game with a 26-inning scoreless streak, which Garver broke with a second-inning home run).

Garver has been a remarkable story. He had a solid season as the primary starter as a 27-year-old rookie in 2018, hitting seven home runs in 302 at-bats. With Jason Castro back from a knee injury and the promise of Willians Astudillo, it looked like a three-way timeshare behind the plate this year.

That’s how it started, but Garver started hitting and then kept on hitting and kept on getting more time. He’s hitting .273/.353/.619 and has even hit leadoff 20 times, which he did Saturday.

Overall, Twins catchers have hit 39 home runs, so they should be break the MLB record of 43 shared by the 1953 Dodgers (41 by Roy Campanella), 1997 Dodgers (40 by Mike Piazza), 1999 Mets (40 by Piazza) and 2003 Braves (all by Javy Lopez).

April 20: Twins blast eight home runs in a 16-7 win at Baltimore

In the second game of a doubleheader, Garver, Cruz and Jonathan Schoop each hit two home runs. Those are three of the Twins’ 29 individual multihomer games of 2019 — yes, that’s another record. Cruz leads the way with six such games and Schoop has five.

May 23: Twins blast eight home runs in a 16-7 win in Anaheim

The Twins had another eight-homer game with an identical winning score. This came during a stretch in which the Twins won 11 of 12 games and belted 31 home runs. And none of those games were against the Orioles. Minnesota became only the second team with two eight-homer games in one season, joining the 2005 Rangers. To show how impressive the Twins have been, at this point they had hit 98 home runs in 49 games, a season pace of 324 — so they’ve basically maintained a consistent 320-homer pace all season. “We’ve had some games this season where we have hit a lot of homers,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It’s not as if our guys go up there swinging for the fences.” Hmm.

June 6: Max Kepler crushes three home runs

This was the Max Kepler Game as the Twins beat the Indians 5-4 with Kepler hitting all three home runs off Trevor Bauer as he went 4-for-4 with a walk and four RBIs. Kepler had entered the game hitless in his previous 21 at-bats. He had a chance for a fourth home run in the ninth inning against Cleveland reliever Josh Smith, but he could manage only an infield single. “Some days you don’t see the ball great. Other days you see it like a beach ball,” Kepler said.

June 18: Kepler ties score in bottom of 13th

Or maybe this was the Max Kepler Game. Facing the Red Sox, Kepler didn’t even enter until the sixth inning, but then he did this: tied the score with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, led off the bottom of the 13th with a tying home run, won it with an RBI single in the 17th for a 4-3 victory. His home run in this game is the Twins’ only extra-inning long ball so far.

July 25: Nelson Cruz hits three home runs

The old man can still bring it. This was part of a seven-homer week for Cruz as he homered in five straight games, including three times — all off Lucas Giolito — in a 10-3 win over the White Sox. Cruz had two shots at a fourth home run but struck out and flew out.

Aug. 3: Nelson Cruz hits three home runs … again

In an 11-3 win over the Royals, Cruz hit another three.

Aug. 5: Miguel Sano hits walk-off home run

In a 5-3 win over the Braves, Sano entered as a pinch hitter with two outs and a runner on in the bottom of the ninth, and delivered the Twins’ only walk-off home run of 2019.

Aug. 13: Marwin Gonzalez homers off Josh Hader

Down 5-4 in the top of the eighth, the Twins got two on with two outs and the Brewers brought in the All-Star left-hander to flip the switch-hitting Gonzalez over to his right side. He jumped all over a first-pitch fastball.

Aug. 31: Mitch Garver hits the record-breaker

OK, maybe it was a bit anticlimactic in the 10-7 loss for the #BombaSquad, but here it is:

Twins home runs by month:
March/April: 50
May: 56
June: 51
July: 52
August: 59

The single-season leaders:
2019 Twins: 268
2018 Yankees: 267
1997 Mariners: 264
2005 Rangers: 260

Oh, by the way, the Twins better not slow down in September. The Yankees are within striking distance with 254 home runs.



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