Eduardo Escobar has seen enough, and made his feelings known about his teammate Miguel Sano.
“In two years,” Escobar said. “He’s going to be the next Miguel Cabrera.”
Quite a statement, but Escobar sees Sano’s strength and the way he takes at-bats, and it reminds him of the Tigers’ hitting star.
Sano continued his tear on Tuesday by collecting three hits, including his 14th home run in the Twins’ 8-6 victory over the White Sox. Opponents don’t want to pitch to Cabrera in big moments, and Sano is showing that trait 50 games into his career. His home run in the seventh tied the game at 5-5 while bringing Target Field fans to their feet, and it set up the Twins’ three-run eighth, which was fueled by two Chicago errors.
Don’t underestimate the timing of Sano’s home run, which came on a 3-2 change up thrown by Nate Jones. The Twins had blown a 4-0 lead at that point and the White Sox were threatening to make a winner out of ace lefthander Chris Sale when Sano connected for his 14th home run.
“The momentum changer was the home run, for us,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think when you are trailing and you have relinquished the lead, you know that if you can get back to even it takes a little of the pressure off because you are in your home park and you tie a game and you know you are going to get the last at-bat somewhere along the way.
“So that was huge to get the home run to tie the game, then we put together a nice inning.”
According to ESPN Stats and Info, Sano is one of four players in the last 10 seasons to hit 14 home runs through their first 50 games. And seven of Sano’s home runs have either tied the game of given the Twins the lead.
“For me, he’s the next Miggy,” Escobar said. “Good discipline at the plate. He looks like a veteran guy, not a young guy.”
Eduardo Escobar led off the eighth with a double and scored when White Sox reliever Zach Duke fielded Kurt Suzuki’s bunt and threw it down the line for an error. Byron Buxton batted and reached when Tyler Saladino let his grounder get through his legs and into left field. Suzuki scored on Joe Mauer’s single and Buxton scored on a shallow sacrifice fly - crossing the plate standing up - to put the Twins ahead 8-5.
Glen Perkins gave up a run in the ninth but still picked up his 32nd save. Kevin Jepsen, 3-6, pitched a scoreless eighth inning to win his first game as a Twin.
Sano scored the Twins first run in the second inning on Escobar’s single. Suzuki added an RBI single and Brian Dozier hit a two-run double as the Twins took a 4-0 lead on Sale, who entered the game 1-3 with a 6.46 ERA against the Twins this season.
What caught Molitor’s eye was how Sano ran gingerly on his sore right hamstring as he went from first to second on a wild pitch, then to third on Eddie Rosario’s single. Sano has been told not to push things on the basepaths as he recovers.
“It was the first time we’ve seen him run the bases with that leg injury and it concerns me somewhat,” Molitor said. “We’ve told him to be careful in terms of decision-making, but obviously it’s still bothering him a little bit and that is a concern.”
Sano said he treats his hamstring 45 minutes before each game, and it is not bothering him that much.
“I try not to run too fast,” Sano said.
But if he keeps hitting home runs, he won’t have to worry about running hard.