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Here are the Twins' Top 10 moments of 2019

@dohyoungpark
November 11, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Here's a look at the top 10 moments of the 2019 Twins season, a season filled with excitement and record-breaking offensive performances.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Here's a look at the top 10 moments of the 2019 Twins season, a season filled with excitement and record-breaking offensive performances.

1) Sanó's grand slam crushes Cleveland's division hopes
Sept. 14 vs. Indians

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said that Saturday, Sept. 14 was "one of the most rewarding days [he has] had at a baseball field in a very, very long time." After a rainout in the opener of the final series between the Twins and Indians in 2019, Baldelli's relief corps navigated 18 brilliant innings in back-to-back bullpen games to sweep the doubleheader. The defining moment came in the nightcap, when Miguel Sanó crushed the first pitch he saw -- from reliever Nick Goody -- for the first grand slam of his career. That mighty swing all but ended the race for the American League Central.

2) Twins clinch first division title since 2010
Sept. 25 vs. Tigers

The Twins entered Sept. 25 with a magic number of two. Breakout rookie right-hander Randy Dobnak, three days shy of his wedding, trimmed that to one by tossing six suffocating one-hit innings in a victory against the Tigers. Then, with the entire team watching from a room in the visitors' clubhouse at Comerica Park, the White Sox finished off the Indians in an 8-3 affair that clinched Minnesota's first AL Central championship since 2010 at the end of a season-long battle against the Indians, the three-time defending division winners.

3) Bomba Squad secures home run record with trio of blasts
Sept. 29 vs. Royals

The Yankees and Twins had long since put away their respective division races, but history was still on the line at Kauffman Stadium and Globe Life Park on the final day of the regular season. After leading the Majors in homers for most of the season, the Twins trailed the Yankees, 305-304, with one game to play. Aaron Judge crushed a homer in Arlington to add one to the Bronx Bombers' total, but the Twins dealt the final blow in Kansas City with three blasts from an unlikely trio -- an injured C.J. Cron, fourth outfielder Jake Cave and the decisive bomb from Jason Castro -- to finish their historic run at 307 homers, alone atop the record books.

4) Garver mashes critical homer in AL Central race
Sept. 7 vs. Indians

When the Twins met the Indians for three games at Target Field at the beginning of September, Cleveland was on its last legs in the race for the division crown. Minnesota had opened up a 6 1/2-game lead with only six head-to-head matchups remaining, meaning that the Tribe essentially needed a sweep to keep significant division hopes alive. Mitch Garver made sure that didn't happen when he crushed a game-winning three-run blast to right field -- also off Goody -- that sent the Twins to an emotional 5-3 victory, just hours after the Commissioner's Office had announced a crushing season-ending suspension for Michael Pineda.

5) Cruz's miraculous return to the field
Aug. 19 vs. White Sox

Where would the Twins be without Nelson Cruz? They almost had to face that question on Aug. 8, when they feared the worst after the 39-year-old slugger was removed from a game against the Indians after rupturing a tendon in his problematic left wrist while swinging at a pitch. But by some miracle, Cruz was already able to swing a bat without pain the next day, and in an extreme stroke of luck, the injury proved to be one that Cruz could play through. The veteran leader returned to the field on Aug. 19, after only the minimum 10 days on the injured list.

6) Gonzalez takes Hader deep to put Twins in first for good
Aug. 13 vs. Brewers

The Indians furiously erased an 11 1/2-game deficit in the AL Central and at long last pulled ahead of the Twins for sole possession of the division lead on Aug. 12. Marwin Gonzalez made sure that didn't last. With Minnesota reeling after having dropped five of its previous six games, Gonzalez stepped to the plate at Miller Park with the Twins down, 5-4, and crushed a three-run shot to left field off Brewers bullpen ace and National League Reliever of the Year Award winner Josh Hader to kick-start a 5-1 road trip through Milwaukee and Texas. Minnesota never again relinquished first place.

7) Acuña gives up on Sanó's walk-off blast
Aug. 5 vs. Braves

One would think that a record-breaking season of homers might have included more than one walk-off blast, but as it turns out, the Twins' only game-ending home run came against the Braves on Aug. 5, when Sanó crushed a pitch from Atlanta reliever Chris Martin off the limestone facing above the center-field batter's eye for Minnesota's first pinch-hit walk-off homer since 2006. It was such a mighty blast that Ronald Acuña Jr. memorably started jogging back to the dugout from center field as soon as Sanó made contact with the ball.

8) Triple play sets the tone vs. Yankees
July 22 vs. Yankees

How's this for setting the tone? With the Yankees paying a visit to Target Field for a memorable series that later upped the anticipation for a rematch in the AL Division Series, Twins left-hander Martín Pérez issued a pair of walks to begin the game, bringing Edwin Encarnación to the plate with no outs. Encarnación slashed a grounder to third base, where Luis Arraez started a 5-4-3 triple play, the 13th in club history. The crazy part? It wasn't even the most memorable moment of the series -- or Minnesota's only triple play of the season.

9) Berríos dominates Indians on Opening Day
March 28 vs. Indians

A highly anticipated battle for the AL Central crown began without delay on Opening Day, when the Twins and Indians clashed on a frigid afternoon at Target Field in the first of 19 head-to-head contests between the division hopefuls. Corey Kluber was good, but José Berríos was better, twirling 7 2/3 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts in front of a raucous home crowd to set a triumphant tone for the season-long struggle between the two clubs. Free-agent acquisition Gonzalez's clutch two-run double in the seventh inning made a winner of Berríos.

10) Kepler smashes fifth straight homer off Bauer
July 13 vs. Indians

Max Kepler's utter domination of Trevor Bauer this season was almost without precedent, and the Twins' outfielder was likely a bit disappointed when Bauer was moved to the Reds at the Trade Deadline. In a July 13 game against the Indians at Progressive Field, he crushed homers in the first and second innings against Bauer, which followed a three-homer game on June 6 to give Kepler long balls in five straight at-bats against Bauer. Kepler joined only Carlos Delgado and Frank Howard as players to accomplish that feat in the Expansion Era (since 1961).

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.