Twins keep raising their home run bar

Three straight in the first, five total put Minnesota on pace for 296

April 27th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- The last time the Twins saw Alex Cobb was last Saturday, when they tagged him for three homers -- tying his career high -- in 2 2/3 innings. And still, they outdid themselves in Friday’s series opener against the Orioles at Target Field.

The Twins matched the three homers in just the first inning, with back-to-back-to-back shots from , and . later launched a fourth homer and Cruz also blasted his second of the night as the Twins cruised to a 6-1 victory.

Did it help the Twins that they also saw Cobb so well in his last start?

"Yes, of course, 100 percent,” Rosario said. “Tomorrow is another pitcher [Dan Straily] who threw the last time in Baltimore. Now you know what they got and what they do to you."

It marked the Twins’ third game in 2019 with five homers. They did not have a single such game last season.

Here’s a look at the Twins’ five-homer night through five fun facts:

1. The Twins went back-to-back-to-back for the first time since 2016
didn’t go yard himself, but he set the framework for a big first inning by grinding out an 11-pitch at-bat, allowing the hitters behind him to get a feel for all three of Cobb’s pitches -- the fastball, the curve and the splitter.

"That helped a lot,” Rosario said. “When you see that, you are going to compete. You see Polanco fighting, fighting. ... That's teamwork."

And then the fireworks commenced.

Cruz got the power show started by blasting a curveball a projected 412 feet over the center-field wall for his fourth homer of the season, just out of reach of a leaping Joey Rickard. Rosario followed with another center-field homer that traveled a projected 410 feet, extending his team homer lead to an American League-high 11. Cron capped it off with the longest of the bunch -- a projected 430-foot homer that landed in the upper deck in left field.

Rosario clearly enjoyed being part of the feat; after the game, he emerged from the showers in the home clubhouse whispering “back-to-back-to-back” to himself several times as he walked to his locker.

"Too much fun,” Rosario said. “When you see that, hitting bombs, hitting bombs, it's fun to watch. It's really fun to watch."

The last time the Twins hit three consecutive homers had been on June 26, 2016, when Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe and Kepler went back-to-back-to-back off Nathan Eovaldi at Yankee Stadium.

2. The Twins are on pace to shatter their single-season home run record
The Twins have now hit 42 homers in 2019, matching the 1964 Twins for the most long balls in club history through the first 23 games of a season. That puts them on pace to hit 296 homers over the course of a full 162-game campaign, which would shatter the single-season club record of 225, set by the 1963 team. (The Major League record is 267, set last year by the Yankees.)

"It's been fun,” Cruz said. “Like I said early in the year, it's going to be fun. It's fun every day. Every day, someone comes and does something special.”

3. The Twins had 13 batted balls measured at 100 mph or harder
Cobb was hit hard -- really hard -- for the second straight start. Last Saturday night, in Cobb’s previous start, the Twins set a team record in the Statcast era with 14 batted balls hit at 100 mph or harder. On Friday, they fell one such hit shy of reaching that mark for a second time.

Not only are the Twins making hard contact; they’re also just making contact more often. The Twins had entered Friday having swung and missed at just 13.8 percent of pitches in the strike zone since last season’s All-Star break -- the best mark in the Majors.

"I think we follow [Willians] Astudillo,” Cruz joked. “He's very aggressive. We're getting into his approach, going out there and taking hacks early, I guess. We are an aggressive team. We all have different approaches. It's nice to not only have the guys that swing early or the guys that take at-bats and see a lot of pitches, too, like we mentioned, Polanco."

4. Cobb was the sixth starter this decade to allow four homers to the Twins
Friday marked the sixth time this decade the Twins have hit four homers off an opposing starter. Cobb joined Carson Fulmer, Matt Garza, Eovaldi, John Danks and Kyle Lohse in allowing the feat.

The four homers against Cobb were one shy of the most long balls the Twins have hit against a starter in franchise history. On April 29, 1962, the Twins tagged Indians right-hander Gary Bell for five homers in six innings.

"I'm just leaving so many balls up in the zone right now, and they're putting a lot of barrels to the ball, and they're going out of the ballpark,” Cobb said. “So I’ve got to figure out a way to get the ball down and more to my spots than I'm doing right now, so it'll come with time."

5. Cruz had the 29th multi-homer game of his career
Cruz followed his first-inning shot to center with an opposite-field homer into the right-field porch in the fifth inning, marking the 29th multi-homer game of his career and his second in a week. His previous multi-homer game was the nightcap of last Saturday’s doubleheader -- also against Cobb and the Orioles.

He also singled in the third inning as he recorded his third three-hit game of the season.

“He’s one of the better hitters we’ve seen in baseball,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He hits the ball so hard. He just continually puts good swings on the ball, and he just happens to be very strong. He doesn’t go up there trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark; he just tries to hit the ball on a line somewhere, and when he does, sometimes they go out of the ballpark.”

The 38-year-old designated hitter has the sixth-most multi-homer games among active players, trailing Albert Pujols (58), Miguel Cabrera (39), Edwin Encarnacion (33), Giancarlo Stanton (32) and Ryan Braun (32).