BOSTON -- Here’s one thing Twins manager Rocco Baldelli always points out about Miguel Sanó: Much of the time, all he needs to do is make solid contact, and it’s a safe bet that he’ll hit the baseball a long, long way.
Sometimes, the big man makes more than simply solid contact -- and that’s when everyone in the zip code needs to take cover.
Such was the case on Wednesday night at Fenway Park, when Sanó put all of his might into a hanging slider by Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta and sent a solo home run clear over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a titanic blast measured by Statcast at 495 feet, the longest home run in the Majors this season. The long ball gave Minnesota a two-run lead in the third inning, though homers by Josh Donaldson and Jake Cave in the 10th inning were more consequential to the outcome of Minnesota’s 9-6 victory over Boston.
“I’m going to make a ridiculous statement, and I know Red Sox fandom will probably not appreciate it,” said Baldelli, who grew up a Boston fan as a youth in Rhode Island and played for the Red Sox in 2009. “I thought it might be one of the 10 furthest balls ever hit in this stadium. And I haven’t seen even a small portion of the home runs hit in this stadium, but I don’t know how a human being can hit a ball much further than what Miguel Sanó did today.”
The Twins carried a 4-2 lead into the ninth before Alex Colomé allowed a game-tying, two-run homer to Kyle Schwarber with none out, sending the game to extras. Donaldson immediately silenced a raucous Fenway crowd with a leadoff two-run homer off former teammate Hansel Robles, and Cave put the game out of reach with a three-run blast that capped a five-run, game-winning rally.
Still, the most impressive was Sanó’s homer, which didn’t just leave Fenway Park; it sailed out of the ballpark to straightaway left-center field, to the right of the big light tower on the center-field side of the Green Monster. If you think baseballs don’t take that route out of the stadium too often, you’d be right: Before Sanó’s monster clout, the longest homer at Fenway tracked by Statcast was a mere 469 feet, hit by Hanley Ramírez on April 29, 2017.
“All of the guys in the dugout just kind of looked at each other, like, 'Did you guys just see that?'” said rookie starter Bailey Ober, who threw five shutout innings. “It was pretty cool. I got to see the ball just travel. It looked like it went over everything.”
Certainly, it was the best challenge in some time by any hitter to Ted Williams’ legendary blast of June 9, 1946, which traveled an estimated 502 feet and was honored by a red seat in the right-field bleachers as the longest home run believed to be hit at the venerable stadium.
“That’s probably the furthest ball I’ve ever seen hit on a team that I’ve played for,” Donaldson said. “Obviously, Miguel Sanó’s a big, strong man, and when he gets into them, they go really far. That was impressive. That should count for two, I think.”
There’s no such seat to be memorialized out on Lansdowne Street, where Sanó’s blast likely came to earth (if it came to earth), and that’s likely for the best, considering the 116.7 mph swat might have done damage to more than just the record books. Sanó had actually been concerned earlier in the day, when he hit a young fan in the right-field bleachers with a batting-practice homer before the game.
But Sanó gave the boy a signed bat and jersey and the reassurance that the slugger would collect a hit for him -- and a 495-foot homer is about as well as he could have delivered on that promise.
"I have three kids, and I was a little bit sad when I saw him try to catch my ball and get hit in the head,” Sanó said. “That's a hard moment, to have something bad in the head. He motivated me to try to come here and play the game and give him my jersey."
The blast well surpassed the previous longest homer in the Majors this season, a 486-foot shot by Tommy Pham of the Padres on Aug. 17, but somehow, it wasn’t even the longest homer by a Twins player tracked by Statcast, because, well, Sanó is no stranger to such eye-popping distances. His homer on Wednesday fell a foot shy of his club record of 496 feet on a blast from Sept. 17, 2019.
And in a league that houses the likes of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo, it’s Sanó who owns three of the five longest homers in the American League this season, ranking first, third and fifth with blasts of 495, 475 and 473 feet. The 475-footer came on Aug. 18, which might have been just as impressive considering it was hit to right-center field, landing halfway up the upper deck in a location unknown even to most left-handed hitters.
So when considering Sanó’s success, don’t just look at the blasphemous distances, as those will naturally come with his skillset. Instead, note that those two longest homers, both in the last week, traveled toward the middle of the field -- an indication of his recently adapted approach in which he hopes to emphasize hitting the ball to center and right field instead of getting too pull-happy.
“For him, I think using the whole field is one way for him to stay on the ball,” Baldelli said. “I think he gets the best version of his swing when he's doing that, and I think he's been able to carry it into the game, which, that's the difficult part, but he's stayed focused, and he's been able to do it."
If Wednesday was any indication, Sanó isn’t sacrificing any power with that new mindset.