Polanco's two homers fill Twins' power void

August 22nd, 2017

CHICAGO -- With out at least 10 days with his left shin injury, manager Paul Molitor said before Monday's doubleheader that Twins players don't need to try to step up and do too much.
Shortstop did it anyway, hitting a three-run homer in the eighth inning to nearly complete a comeback in Game 1's 7-6 loss to the White Sox before crushing a three-run homer to ignite six-run second in a 10-2 win in Game 2. It was the first time in his career Polanco homered in back-to-back games, and they came in consecutive at-bats from both sides of the plate. It helped Minnesota salvage a twin-bill split and move ahead of the Angels for sole possession of the lead for the second American League Wild Card spot.
"Polanco gave us life [in Game 1], and in the second game he got us going," Molitor said. "They weren't cheapies. He got ahold of both of them."

Polanco is continuing to rebound after a July that saw him go 4-for-51 with six RBIs in 17 games and caused him to lose playing time at short to and . Polanco has been on fire in August, hitting .385/.420/.615 with two homers, five doubles, two triples and 15 RBIs in 18 games, firmly reclaiming his starting status. He's credited better plate discipline for his recent resurgence.
But this was a rare display of power from Polanco, who hadn't homered since June 23 and had just three homers in 373 plate appearances this season entering Monday. So it was a good sign, especially with the homers coming from both sides, as his first was a three-run shot to left off lefty and his second was a three-run blast to right off right-hander . The homer off Holland was projected to travel 380 feet and the shot off Fulmer 402 feet, per Statcast™.

"It was a 2-0 count in the first game hitting right-handed, and then he jumped on a hanging changeup there in the second game," Molitor said.
The Twins don't expect Polanco to keep up that power in Sano's absence, but if he can continue to contribute offensively the way he has lately, it'll go a long way toward keeping the Twins in postseason contention. And as Molitor noted, Polanco wouldn't have had the chance to stay hot in Game 2 if it weren't for right fielder Max Kepler getting scratched at the last minute due to illness, moving Adrianza to left and Polanco in at short.
"He's responded," Polanco said. "I told him he should high-five Kepler because I didn't have him in the lineup until he got scratched. So that worked pretty well."