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After 382 career HRs, Cruz has 1st game with 3

@Russ_Dorsey1
July 26, 2019

CHICAGO -- Nelson Cruz has been one of baseball’s most prolific sluggers over the past decade, and at 39, he has continued to age like a fine wine. Even after 382 career homers, Cruz accomplished something he never had with the first three-homer game of his career in the Twins'

CHICAGO -- Nelson Cruz has been one of baseball’s most prolific sluggers over the past decade, and at 39, he has continued to age like a fine wine.

Even after 382 career homers, Cruz accomplished something he never had with the first three-homer game of his career in the Twins' 10-3 victory over the White Sox on Thursday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“It's not easy,” Cruz said. “To hit three [homers] is a blessing.”

There haven’t been many players this season who have gotten the best of White Sox starter Lucas Giolito, but Cruz did just that by blasting three homers in his first three at-bats, making his performance all the more impressive.

“He's a good hitter," Giolito said. "He was seeing me well.”

Cruz started his milestone night quickly, getting Minnesota on the board in the first inning by launching a 2-2 fastball to the concourse in left-center. The majestic blast was projected to travel an eye-popping 473 feet, per Statcast.

“There’s no way to compare. When you see him hit balls, sometimes you think they’re very unique swings, and they’re very unique off the bat,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You don’t see very many balls hit like that, even when you watch a ton of games. You don’t see very many balls leave the ballpark like that. Sometimes you can’t really believe what you’re watching. It’s that impressive.”

Cruz's first homer of the evening was the Twins' second-longest homer tracked by Statcast (since 2015) and Cruz’s longest since Aug. 18, 2017. It was also the longest homer at Guaranteed Rate Field tracked by Statcast (since '15), with Cruz breaking his own record, set with a 469-foot homer in June.

"He’s been a consistent hitter in the big leagues for as long as he’s been playing,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously, age doesn’t matter to him. He’s a professional hitter, he’s very smart, very aware of what is going on. He’s been around the block. He’s excelled at his craft. He’s no longer going both ways, but he can handle the bat."

In the third inning, Cruz rocketed a two-run homer off the batters’ eye in center field to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead.

Cruz capped off his night in the fifth by blasting a two-run shot; he finished 3-for-5 with five RBIs and three runs scored.

At 39 years and 24 days old, Cruz is the oldest player to hit three home runs in a game since Alex Rodriguez did it as a member of the Yankees four years ago to the day against who else? The Minnesota Twins.

"I think it is a lot of work, and I make sure I do my weights. Make sure I sleep well, rest,” Cruz said of his success at 39. “I think for anybody, if you can have experience in your job, you can do a lot of things when your body feels good and the experience helps."

Cruz told reporters that he’ll keep a few mementos from Thursday’s historic performance, including his spikes, his bat and the third home run ball.

Here are five fun facts from Cruz’s three-homer game

• Cruz is the first player Statcast has tracked with three homers of 430-plus feet in a game.

• He now has seven homers in his last seven games.

• Cruz has hit six homers in four games vs. White Sox this season.

• The three homers off Giolito came off three different pitches (95 mph fastball, 80 mph curveball and 80 mph changeup).

• Cruz is hitting .572 vs. the White Sox this season. That's his highest average against any team this season (minimum four games).

Even after three marathon games vs. the Yankees, which could take a lot out of a player, Cruz didn’t seem affected.

Don’t be fooled, though. Cruz knows what has gotten him this far.

“I needed a nap today,” he said. “I was dying for a nap.”

But as reporters joked that the three-homer game might start a new routine, Cruz immediately shot down that idea.

"No, I need my naps."

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.