ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Due to travel, weather and rest, the Twins have taken batting practice only once in the past six days. Just imagine if they weren’t so rusty.
The Twins smacked around another helpless pitching staff on Thursday, crashing a franchise-record eight home runs en route to a 16-7 drubbing of the Angels. Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Sano each connected twice, while Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and C.J. Cron all joined in as well as the Twins completed, albeit a day later than planned, their most successful West Coast swing in 23 years.
“It’s pretty amazing. … I know I haven’t seen anything like it,” said manager Rocco Baldelli, who actually did see another eight-homer game from his team April 20 at Baltimore. “Our guys just continually go up there and they don’t give at-bats away. They just keep going at it.”
The Twins won six times in seven games, going 3-1 in Seattle and sweeping three in Anaheim, and did it by simply bludgeoning their opponents with one of the most overwhelming displays of power hitting in baseball history. Despite being without injured Nelson Cruz and Mitch Garver, the Twins clobbered 22 baseballs over the fences during their weeklong blitz, and outscoring the Mariners and Angels 67-29. The last time they visited two Pacific cities and lost only once was in August 1996, when they went 8-1 on a swing through Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland.
The Twins’ 98 home runs this year tie them with the 2000 Cardinals and 1999 Mariners for most ever through 49 games of a season. They have now hit eight home runs in a game three times in franchise history — once in 1963, and now twice this year. Coincidentally, both of this year’s eight-homer games have occurred in a makeup of a rainout the day before.
Note to the rest of the AL: You do not want it to rain with the Twins in town.
“Once we start hitting, it kind of piles on like it did today,” said Cron, whose 13 homers rank seventh in the AL but second on his own team, behind Rosario. “Obviously today might be an outlier — eight’s a lot of homers — but we definitely have the ability to do that, and it’s nice to show it.”
Oddly, the Twins’ first run was scored on a sacrifice fly that traveled maybe 150 feet. Rosario shocked Angels shortstop Zack Cozart by tagging up and charging home once Cozart gloved Luis Arraez’s popup to short left field.
Then came the fireworks. Schoop started it by blasting the longest home run, according to MLB’s Statcast system, by any Twins player this year, a 467-foot rocket far into the left field seats, scoring three runs. Three batters later, Polanco hit his ninth of the year to right-center, scoring two more. And in the third, Cron and Sano both went deep, knocking out Angels starter Matt Harvey.
“I’m just trying to, honestly, just keep up with this offense. It seems like every day, everyone is going deep,” Cron said. “It’s fun to be a part of it.”
Sano’s third-inning homer marked the first time in more than a year, since March 31-April 1, 2018, that he had homered in back-to-back games. And his sixth-inning belt off Noe Ramirez gave him his first two-homer game since Aug. 18, 2017. Schoop’s second blast gave him his first two-homer game since … Saturday.
Martin Perez (7-1) was the beneficiary of the Twins’ latest outburst, on a day when the lefthander’s control largely eluded him. Perez walked four for his second start in a row and lasted only five innings, giving up two runs, before Baldelli turned to his bullpen for three uneventful innings and a five-run ninth-inning meltdown by Austin Adams.
“He had some spells where he was maybe not commanding the ball the way he wanted to,” Baldelli said of Perez. “Yet it was a good start in the sense that it wasn’t his crispest, it wasn’t his absolute best, but he competed and he kept us in the game.”
Now the Twins come home to face the White Sox, their lead in the AL Central expanded to eight games, largest in the majors and largest ever for a Twins team in May. Baldelli isn’t watching the standings, though.
“It’s way too early to be looking at any big-picture stuff,” he said. “We just focus on what we’re doing each day and start there.”