Bragging rights secured! Lee homers off ex-roommate Thorpe

July 11th, 2024

CHICAGO -- Bragging rights may be temporary, but wins are written in the stat sheets forever.

Good thing can claim both.

Not only did the rookie break the seal on the Twins’ offense with a solo homer in the sixth inning of Wednesday’s doubleheader finale against the White Sox, but that blast likely carried much more meaning -- and fun -- for the 23-year-old became it came against right-hander , his longtime college roommate at Cal Poly and his best friend.

“I’m hitting .333 off of him, so last time I checked, that’s Hall of Fame numbers,” Lee said with a smirk.

Thanks to back-to-back blasts from Lee and Carlos Correa featuring in the Twins’ home run streak-extending ways and a go-ahead knock by Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota claimed a doubleheader split and its sixth consecutive series victory with a 3-2 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Wednesday (after dropping the first game, 3-1).

And lest you think the Twins were done setting home run records after the “Bomba Squad” team established a new single-season mark in 2019, they’re threatening another: Lee’s blast extended the Twins’ streak of games with a homer to 28, matching the ‘23 Braves for the second longest in AL/NL history, three games behind the 31-game record held by the ‘19 Yankees.

Though Lee hadn’t yet gotten to the gloating stage in the group text called “The Runaround Crew” shared by him, Thorpe and their old Mustangs pitching coach, Jake Silverman, he took a moment to speak more seriously about what the day meant as he went 1-for-3 with a groundout, strikeout and homer against Thorpe.

“It’s emotional for all of us,” Lee said. “You just want to sit back and cry because we’re so proud of each other. We push each other so hard. We knew we’d always have the same common goals. Now, it’s coming to fruition, but we still have bigger dreams than what’s going on right now.”

“It's unbelievable,” Thorpe added. “It's kind of what we, through three years of college, talked about: being up here together.”

In case you’re wondering, Lee said that he was consistently the messiest roommate from the time when he and Thorpe lived together in a four-person house starting their sophomore year -- that is, until Lee’s girlfriend, Delanie, moved in for their senior year.

“[Then] I was not the dirtiest, I’ll just say that,” Lee said.

Lee has only hit two of the Twins’ record-nearing homers as part of his eight career games in the Majors, but he was never really known as a slugger, anyway, as his line-drive ability and elite bat-to-ball skills paved the path for his selection at No. 8 in the 2022 MLB Draft -- but there’s no need to remind Thorpe of that, considering their longstanding friendship.

Thorpe went to the Yankees only 53 picks later, at No. 61 in the second round, and he can claim some bragging rights, too: He struck Lee out in the third inning, a rarity for the bat-first prospect who had struck out only twice in 25 MLB plate appearances entering the day -- though Lee was quick to shrug that part of it off.

Lee, the No. 13 prospect in baseball, and Thorpe, ranked No. 37, have faced each other for a long time, from intrasquad scrimmage games in college to their offseasons between pro ball, when Lee still trains alongside his dad, Larry Lee, the head baseball coach at Cal Poly -- who was in attendance on Wednesday.

“I’m sure he wanted it to be even, honestly,” Brooks Lee said. “Drew is a brother to me, and he’s a son to my dad.”

Of course they know what to expect when they face each other -- and Lee has always been pretty aggressive, so he saw something elevated during his third at-bat, in the sixth inning, and mashed the 85.1 mph cutter just over the right-field fence.

Though Lee got to take the trot around his best friend, Thorpe still became the first pitcher in White Sox history to make four consecutive starts of six or more innings while allowing no more than two runs or three hits -- and Lee is sure that Thorpe will get plenty of chances to even the score.

“Historically, I’ve been pretty successful against him, for whatever reason,” Lee said. “But yeah, I believe he’s going to be around for a long time. Myself as well. When all is said and done, we’re laughing, head to toe. Hopefully, someday, we’re on the same team.”