Sano joins Twins' illustrious group with 21st HR

Slugger matches Morneau's output before 2009 All-Star break

July 8th, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins third baseman joined rare company, reaching 21 homers before the All-Star break, the most by a Twins player since hit 21 blasts before the 2009 Midsummer Classic.
Only Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, Twins Hall of Famer Kent Hrbek and Morneau have hit more than 21 homers before an All-Star break since the team moved to Minnesota in 1961. Unfortunately for Sano, however, it came in a losing effort, as his blast was the lone run scored by the Twins in a 5-1 defeat to the Orioles on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
"I'm so happy to be on the same page as those guys," Sano said. "I just need to keep going strong and hit more than that. And try every year to be in the [record] book."
The club record for homers before the All-Star break is 30, set by Killebrew in 1964. Killebrew tied his own club record with 49 homers that season. Before the break, Killebrew also hit 28 homers in '69, 26 in '61 and '70 and 22 in '67. Morneau hit 24 homers prior to the '07 break, while Hrbek had 23 in '87.

Sano's homer in the third left the bat at 108.8 mph at a launch angle of 22 degrees, per Statcast™. It went a projected 379 feet down the left-field line, as he hooked an 0-1 changeup from left-hander . It also extended his hit streak to a career-high 10 games, and he's hitting .342 with three homers and nine RBIs over that stretch.
"I was waiting for that pitch because the first at-bat he threw me a fastball," Sano said. "In my second at-bat, he threw a changeup and I hit a foul ball, and then I was ready for the second one. It was down at my knee but I hit a homer."
Twins manager Paul Molitor noted that Sano's power allowed him to homer even though he was out in front of the 84.8-mph changeup. Sano is only four homers away from tying his career high of 25 set last season.
"He got fooled just a hair, but he kept his hands back and was able to drive it out," Molitor said. "Obviously, that was the highlight for us offensively today."