MINNEAPOLIS -- C.J. Cron knew that he’d smoked another screaming line drive into left field, but it actually caught him by surprise when it carried over everything into the bleachers -- so much so that he couldn’t help but turn and give a yell to his dugout as he began
MINNEAPOLIS -- C.J. Cron knew that he’d smoked another screaming line drive into left field, but it actually caught him by surprise when it carried over everything into the bleachers -- so much so that he couldn’t help but turn and give a yell to his dugout as he began his home run trot.
"I was fired up,” Cron said after the Twins' 8-3 victory in Game 2. “Mostly excited because I didn't know it was going to be gone. It was low and I didn't expect it to go, and when it did, I was kind of excited.”
Surprised as Cron was by the laser shot, it came as no shock to Twins fans, who have witnessed several frozen ropes off the first baseman’s bat leave the park this season. But the slugger has also shown the ability to go yard to the opposite field as well, and perhaps more unexpectedly, has provided a steady glove at first base to collect many errant throws from Twins infielders.
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Cron showcased all of those elements in the Twins’ doubleheader split with the Tigers on Saturday, hitting a game-tying, opposite-field homer in the eighth inning of Minnesota’s 5-3 afternoon loss, and then slamming the line-drive three-run homer in the nightcap. Cron's 4-for-5 performance in Game 2 marks the second time this week he's notched four hits.
Cron finished a triple shy of the cycle as he singled in the first, hit his 100th career double in the third, homered in the fifth and singled again in the eighth. His other four-hit performance, which included a homer, came on Wednesday in Toronto.
The first baseman’s three-run shot gave the Twins some insurance runs in what had previously been a one-run game. The ball left his bat at 115.1 mph, making it the second-hardest homer hit by a Twins player since Statcast debuted in 2015. Only Kennys Vargas had a harder-hit dinger, a 116-mph shot on June 10, 2017, off the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija.
“I don’t know what’s going on this year, but I’ll take it, however they get out,” Cron said of his low-trajectory homers. “Hopefully we can get some more loft and make it a little easier on myself, but it’s been good so far, for sure.”
As often as he has targeted the tantalizing home-run porch in left field with those line drives, he has also shown the ability to wait on the ball and take it to the opposite field if necessary, as he did with a 422-foot shot to right-center off Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez in the afternoon game to briefly pull the Twins even in their eventual 5-3 loss.
“He hits some low, screaming line drives to left field, and he can also loft the ball into the air the other way and drive it a long way,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He can certainly do some things, and I think he's really, really feeling good at the plate right now."
Cron’s pair of homers on Saturday upped his total to nine this season, moving him into a tie for third place among American League first basemen.
When Cron was acquired by the Twins during the offseason, he said that the key to unlocking his 30-homer power last year with the Rays was simple: regular playing time.
“I think any player in this league will tell you the more at-bats they have, the more consistent and better those at-bats are going to be,” Cron said. “I've been fortunate enough to get the at-bats last year, and then this year, even more than last year. It's been good. I feel comfortable up there, and it's nice to finally show it."
The Twins claimed him off waivers to give him that opportunity -- and as the team’s firmly embedded starting first baseman, he feels the consistency in both his at-bats and his chances to play in the field have combined to make him feel comfortable both in the batter’s box and at first base.
“I DH'd a ton last year -- I wasn’t really able to play much first, and coming over here, being able to do it every day, get my feet underneath me, it’s the same as hitting -- it gives you that confidence, and I’m glad I’ve been able to show it a little bit,” Cron said.
That showed again in the sixth inning on Saturday night, when he lost his footing at first base while trying to field a wayward throw from Marwin Gonzalez. Cron, however, snared the ball on a dive, and kicked back with his feet to touch the first-base bag to retire Ronny Rodriguez.
“Our job is to hit when we’re at the plate and play defense when we’re not, and a lot of guys in this locker room have done a really good job of that,” Cron said. “We’re playing pretty good defense. We’re helping out the pitchers, especially [Byron Buxton] in center -- he’s been unbelievable. It’s fun to be able to score runs and be able to take some away, so it’s been good.”
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.