MLB.com is keeping track of a Stat of the Day for the Twins this season, highlighting a unique, interesting or fun nugget from each game.
July 31: Twins 8, Cardinals 1 -- Ober makes history ... at the plate
Sure, Bailey Ober had a solid night on the mound in St. Louis by allowing one run in four innings -- but that won't earn him a spot in the history books. On the other hand, his exploits at the plate will. In his first plate appearance since high school and using one of Nelson Cruz's bats, Ober slashed a single to right field in the second inning. With the 26-year-old standing at 6-foot-9, that knock made Ober the tallest player to collect a hit in Twins/Senators franchise history.
July 30: Cardinals 5, Twins 1 -- Polanco gets hits, rinse, repeat
Jorge Polanco's productive July continued with his fourth three-hit game of the month, upping his total to 32 hits since the calendar last flipped. That's the second-most in the American League in that time, trailing only David Fletcher of the Angels. It also marks the most hits by a Twins player in a month since Luis Arraez also knocked 32 in September 2019.
July 28: Tigers 17, Twins 14 -- Make it grand again
Ryan Jeffers crushed a grand slam as part of a six-run fourth inning for the Twins, one game after Mitch Garver also cleared the bases with a homer. It marked the first time in club history that two catchers hit grand slams in the same season, and the fifth time in club history that the Twins slugged grand slams on consecutive days. The last time came in 2010, when Jason Kubel and Danny Valencia accomplished the feat on July 25-26.
July 27: Tigers 6, Twins 5 (11) -- Catchers trade slams
Though Mitch Garver made a late exit after getting hit in the right wrist by a pitch, he got the chance to be part of baseball history first. He smashed his first career grand slam in the first inning off Tigers left-hander Tyler Alexander to give Minnesota an early lead, but Tigers backstop Eric Haase got all four of those runs back in the ninth inning, when he crushed a grand slam of his own to send the game to extras. According to STATS, Inc., it marked the first time in MLB history in which opposing catchers both hit a grand slam in a game.
July 26: Twins 6, Tigers 5 (10) -- Kenta in a pinch(-running spot)
Things got weird really quickly for the Twins in the 10th inning, when they forfeited the designated hitter and had the pitcher spot due up as the automatic runner in the bottom of the frame. Instead of using catcher Mitch Garver (the batter in the preceding position), manager Rocco Baldelli made the conscious decision to use pitcher Kenta Maeda as a pinch-runner. The move paid off when Maeda scored from second on Max Kepler's walk-off single, making him the first pitcher to pinch-run and score a run in a game for the Twins since Pat Mahomes scored to walk off the Red Sox in 12 innings on Aug. 9, 1994.
"You start telling Kenta he may run, his first thought is, 'Well if I can run, maybe you can let me hit too,'" Baldelli said. "That's kind of what he was aiming for."
July 25: Angels 6, Twins 2 -- Two big booms to start
Before Minnesota's bats fell silent for most of the series finale, Max Kepler and Brent Rooker began the game with back-to-back home runs, with Rooker's second homer of the season reaching the third deck in left field with a Statcast-projected distance of 436 feet. It marked the second time this season the Twins led off the game with consecutive blasts, joining an April 28 game in Cleveland in which Byron Buxton and Josh Donaldson went deep to prime the contest.
July 24: Angels 2, Twins 1 -- No Halo hat trick
Angels lefty Patrick Sandoval came within two outs of twirling a no-hitter against the Twins at Target Field, but the historic feat was averted by a Brent Rooker double with one gone in the ninth inning. Had Sandoval completed the gem, it would have marked the sixth no-hitter against the Twins in club history -- and the third by an Angels pitcher. Nolan Ryan was with the California Angels when he pitched a 15-strikeout no-no against the Twins on Sept. 28, 1974, while the last no-hitter pitched against Minnesota was by Angels right-hander Jered Weaver on May 2, 2012.
July 23: Twins 5, Angels 4 -- Rogers makes it 50
The Twins' two-run comeback in the eighth gave Taylor Rogers the opportunity to pick up a scoreless ninth inning for his 50th career save, becoming the 12th closer in Twins history to reach that mark. He's only the fourth lefty to hit that milestone among those pitchers, joining Glen Perkins (120), Eddie Guardado (116) and Ron Perranoski (76).
July 22: Angels 3, Twins 2 -- Sanó swipes ... third?
When Nelson Cruz was traded to the Rays, Miguel Sanó decided to wear his mentor's baseball pants in the series opener against the Angels in tribute. Apparently, it endowed him with some speed. Sanó hit a ground-rule double in the fourth inning and took off for third on a 2-0 pitch, sliding in safely for only the third stolen base of his career. It was, needless to say, the first steal of third in his career. Guess who hasn't ever stolen third? Byron Buxton.
July 21: Twins 7, White Sox 2 -- Polanco shows off all his tools
Jorge Polanco has been on a tear this month -- and in clutch situations, too -- as he reached base four times with a walk, single, homer and double in the Twins' comfortable win over the White Sox, stealing a base as well. It marked the second time this season in which he reached base four times and stole a base, the first Twins player to do so multiple times in a year since Byron Buxton (3 games) and Brian Dozier (2), both during the 2017 season.
July 20: White Sox 9, Twins 5 -- Kepler climbs lefty ladder
Max Kepler's solo homer off Dallas Keuchel in the second inning not only marked the first big fly of his career against the veteran lefty, but also gave him 20 homers off southpaws in his career, matching Corey Koskie for the fifth-most by any left-handed Twins hitter against left-handed pitching. The only players with more are Kent Hrbek (58), Justin Morneau (57), Tony Oliva (38) and Joe Mauer (33).
July 19: Twins 3, White Sox 2 (F/8) (G1); White Sox 5, Twins 3 (G2) -- Garver picks right back up
Mitch Garver certainly didn't have the look of a hitter who had spent nearly seven weeks on the injured list when he returned to the lineup in the nightcap of a doubleheader with a pair of solo blasts against offspeed pitches from Reynaldo López and Matt Foster. Since his Silver Slugger season in 2019, Garver has homered in 7.5 percent of his plate appearances, the highest among all players with at least 500 PAs in that span.
July 18: Tigers 7, Twins 0 -- Arraez hit-happy in July
Luis Arraez has collected hits in nine of his past 10 games, for a total of 16 hits since July 4. Five of those contests were multi-hit affairs, but just three hits -- including Sunday's double -- went for extra bases.
July 17: Tigers 1, Twins 0 (Game 1); Tigers 5, Twins 4 (8) (Game 2) -- Donaldson's sky-high HR
Josh Donaldson's home run to lead off the fourth inning in Game 2 marked his 14th homer of the season. The 413-foot shot to left had a launch angle of 35 degrees, the second-highest hit of Donaldson's season after a June 30 round-tripper against the White Sox that had a 38-degree launch angle.
July 11: Twins 12, Tigers 9 (10 innings) -- Owning Central foes
The Twins are 7-2 this season against the division-rival Tigers, including the recent 4-0 sweep at Target Field. They'll square off for four more games starting Friday with a doubleheader in Detroit.
July 10: Twins 9, Tigers 4 -- Twins erase four-run deficit
It only took two big swings of the bat for the Twins to come back from a 4-0 hole, with Alex Kirilloff's two-run blast and Jorge Polanco's go-ahead, three-run shot giving Minnesota a slim lead before the Twins tacked on four insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. It matched the largest comeback win of the season for the Twins, who also beat the White Sox, 5-4, on May 18 after having initially trailed, 4-0.
July 9: Twins 4, Tigers 2 -- Catchers of the future
Rookie backstop Ben Rortvedt threw out his sixth baserunner of the season when he caught Akil Baddoo attempting to steal second base in the first inning, a nice way to punctuate his 20th start behind the plate this season. Coupled with Ryan Jeffers' 33 starts at catcher, this marks only the third time in Twins history in which multiple rookie catchers have started at least 20 games. The others were in 2000, when Matt LeCroy (49 starts), Chad Moeller (48) and A.J. Pierzynski (32) accomplished the feat; and in 1994, when Matt Walbeck (95) and Derek Parks (31) also had such a timeshare.
July 8: Twins 5, Tigers 3 -- Celestino adds to rookie assist count
Savvy veteran Miguel Cabrera tried to catch rookie Gilberto Celestino napping on a deep fly ball to center field in the fourth inning, but Celestino was ready and threw the future Hall of Famer out at second -- after replay review -- as he attempted to tag up. That marked Celestino's second outfield assist of the year, tying him with a group that also includes fellow rookies Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach. The last time the Twins had three rookies with multiple outfield assists was in 2013, when the feat was accomplished by Aaron Hicks (9), Oswaldo Arcia (5) and Chris Herrmann (3).
July 7: White Sox 6, Twins 1 -- Larnach flexes homer muscles
Trevor Larnach gave the Twins their only run off White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn with a solo blast to left-center field in the fourth, and like most of his homers, it was mashed a long way. Larnach's blast traveled an estimated 430 feet into the bullpens, meaning that five of his seven career blasts have traveled at least 420 feet. Among the rookie's teammates, only Nelson Cruz (10) and Byron Buxton (6) have hit more homers of that distance this season.
July 6: White Sox 4, Twins 1 -- Berríos joins small group
On another night, José Berríos' dominant stuff might have led him to flirt with history. Instead, the one hit he allowed was a two-run single, sending him to a tough-luck loss in the middle game of the series. His line was otherwise stellar with 10 strikeouts through seven innings -- making him the fifth pitcher since the turn of the millennium to throw seven or more innings, allow one or fewer hits and collect 10 or more strikeouts -- and take the loss. He joined Rich Hill (Aug. 23, 2017), Jonathan Sánchez (April 20, 2010), Rich Harden (July 21, 2008) and Kerry Wood (May 26, 2003).
July 5: Twins 8, White Sox 5 -- Kepler joins multi-homer club
Max Kepler enjoyed his 10th multi-homer game as a Twin with a two-run blast and solo shot against the South Siders, and in doing so, the outfielder joined a relatively exclusive club of 11 other players with double-digit multi-homer games in a Minnesota uniform. The others: Harmon Killebrew, Justin Morneau, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Bob Allison, Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaetti, Nelson Cruz, Tom Brunansky, Miguel Sanó and Eddie Rosario.
July 4: Twins 6, Royals 2 -- Maeda makes them miss
Kenta Maeda fooled Royals batters throughout his six innings. He recorded a 32.1 percent whiff rate on Sunday -- his fourth-highest mark of the season -- and he had 25 percent or better whiff rates on his splitter (32), his slider (47) and his four-seam fastball (25). All of that resulted in a season-high 10 strikeouts for Maeda, and only the seventh time in his career that his punchout total reached double-digits.
July 3: Royals 6, Twins 3 -- Hope for a better half
Saturday marked the halfway point of the Twins’ season, and with the defeat, Minnesota is now 33-48 through the first 81 games of 2021. That’s the fourth time in the Wild Card Era (since 1994) that the Twins have lost 48 of their first 81 games in a season. They also dropped 52 games in the first half of 1995, 50 in ‘99 and 54 in ‘16.
July 2: Royals 7, Twins 4 -- Happ's homer heartache
The Twins have gone from the team with the least amount of home runs allowed in 2020 (66) to the most in 2021 (125), and offseason acquisition J.A. Happ has had his share of struggles in that department. After giving up two homers in the series opener, Happ has now yielded dingers in each of his last seven starts. That ties a career-long streak that spanned from Sept. 23, 2018 to April 22, 2019. He’s surrendered 12 total during this stretch, his most in any seven-start stretch of his career.
July 1: White Sox 8, Twins 5 -- Happy Birthday, Nelson!
Amid an otherwise tough day for the Twins, Nelson Cruz celebrated his 41st birthday with two hits, including a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth inning that gave Minnesota a short-lived lead. It marked Cruz's first birthday RBI since July 1, 2015. The slugger has now hit safely in nine of 10 games he's played on his birthday.