– The countdown is on.

The Twins are just five home runs shy of tying the major league single season record of 267 home runs hit by the New York Yankees last season.

Given that the Twins are averaging 1.9 home runs a game, they could break the record by Monday.

It’s been a long summer of loud contact by Twins hitters, and it is about to land them in the record books. But how much can the Twins savor the moment bomba No. 268 clears the fence? There is something bigger out there to achieve, a division championship. The Twins are trying to hold off the Indians in the AL Central in a race that didn’t exist in June but has heated up within the past month.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, who said Friday that his lineup has no bottom, added that reaching 268 home runs will be an achievement worth savoring.

“Everyone enjoys it a little bit differently and just cause we probably don’t talk about it and bring it up on our end doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it,” Baldelli said. “The offensive year we have had to this point has been pretty special. The home runs are glamorous and all of that. It’s been fun to be a part of it and watch it, and I feel lucky to be able to sit there and just watch our guys go out there and do what they have done.

“But then we always get back to the part of the conversation, which is we don’t look too far ahead. We don’t look behind very much. We worry about today and our guys have been great about that.”

Miguel Sano said there might be a competition between him and his teammates to see who will hit the record-breaking home run, but the focus remains on winning games and securing the division.

“Every day we come out and battle,” he said, “but we try to have fun because we love to play. It will be cool to break the home run record AND make the playoffs.”

Kepler and Sano back

Sano returned to the lineup on Friday after missing Thursday’s game. In addition to having a tight right forearm from being hit with a pitch Wednesday, he also had an upset stomach and was dealing with some nausea. He played Friday despite not being able to eat much over the previous day.

Max Kepler returned after sitting out Thursday because of a sore right knee. It’s the same knee that he hurt May 23 when he collided with the wall at Anaheim. It has flared up on him a couple of times since, but Baldelli was not sure if this recent episode is related to the initial injury.

Marwin Gonzalez, dealing with a slight abdominal strain, remains out. The Twins, however, feel Gonzalez will return soon. That’s why they have not placed him on the injured list because he would have to serve the entire 10 days on IL.


• Byron Buxton worked out in the outfield before Friday’s game as he continues to treat his sore left shoulder. He will not try to hit until he can swing a bat with as little discomfort as possible. “We just went through that process, and we’re not trying to run him directly back out there without making some improvements in the training room first,” Baldelli said.

• Twins outfield prospect Trevor Larnach was named Florida State League player of the year. He hit .316 with six home runs and 44 RBI in 84 games before being promoted to Class AA Pensacola.