Polanco's 5 hits help Twins to MLB-best record

May 9th, 2019

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Twins have the best record in baseball, and they did little to show that they don’t deserve it in a dominating road sweep of the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Though the Twins allowed a run to Toronto in Wednesday’s finale, they turned in another suffocating performance on both sides of the ball, riding Jorge Polanco’s five hits and Kyle Gibson’s career-high 11 strikeouts to a 9-1 blowout win.

The Twins outscored the Blue Jays in the series, 20-1, did not commit an error, and tallied 38 hits in three games, compared to 11 total hits for the Blue Jays. In Wednesday’s series finale, the Twins fell one hit shy of their season high, with 18, while holding the Blue Jays to only two.

“I know we played really well this series for sure,” C.J. Cron said. “The pitchers did an unbelievable job. We didn't have to score as many runs as we did, but it's nice to score there. Our staff was unbelievable. Hopefully we can continue as a team."

With a record of 23-12, the Twins are 11 games above .500 for the first time since May 31, 2015.

“If you’re not having fun watching this team, I don’t know what you’re doing,” Gibson said.

Polanco collects another five-hit game
Polanco tallied five hits for the second time this season as he fell a triple short of his second cycle of the year. The five hits tied a career-high, matching his total when he hit for the cycle on April 5 in Philadelphia. Polanco joined Joe Mauer, Denard Span, Kirby Puckett and Tony Oliva as the only Twins with multiple five-hit games in a season.

"It's just pretty special,” Baldelli said. “It’s very rare to see anything like this. I don't know if I have seen anything like it. We’re seeing the results, hitting for the cycle, five-hit games, multiple five-hit games and, on top of it, all the other games we have been watching him. When you really break it down and look at his at bats, and what he does at the plate on a very regular basis, that's the special part.”

The Twins’ offense jumped out to such a fast start that Polanco had three hits -- two singles and a homer -- in the first three innings, before Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile had even stepped into the batter’s box for the first time.

Polanco’s two-run homer in the second inning was his seventh long ball of the season, surpassing his 2018 total of six, which he had collected in 77 games.

"I don't try to hit homers, but I think I'm just getting good pitches and hitting it hard,” Polanco said.

He went to the opposite field for a ground-rule double in the sixth inning off reliever Elvis Luciano to reach four hits for the sixth time in his career -- three of which have come this season. Though he didn’t complete the cycle, the switch-hitting shortstop capped off the night by switching to the right side for a seventh-inning single.

“I'm just continuing to work, getting my pitches, trying to get a good pitch to hit, and that's it,” Polanco said.

Gibson continues dominant stretch for rotation
The one run allowed by the Twins in the series marked the lowest opposing total since 2004, and Gibson followed scoreless starts from Martin Perez and Jose Berrios by carrying a no-hitter into the fifth. He allowed only two hits and one walk in six innings.

“I wanted to try to keep that same focus and that same intensity that whole time,” Gibson said. “I felt like I found something when I was warming up and a feeling during my motion, and I didn’t want the big lead to allow that to just slip away and lose that feeling.”

Gibson generated nine swings and misses with both his changeup and his slider, and 19 whiffs overall, his highest total of the season and most since April 26, 2018.

The first hit Gibson allowed was a solo homer by Billy McKinney that snapped a scoreless streak of 25 innings by the Twins’ pitching staff, their longest such streak since Sept. 1-4, 2004. Twins starters have posted a 1.41 ERA since the start of May.

"They've been pitching their tails off,” Cron said. “I don't think there's any way around it. It seems like no matter who we send out there, they're getting outs. As an offense, all we have to do is score enough runs to win the game, and fortunately for the whole team, we've been scoring more than enough, which has been really nice to watch.”

Twins continue historic home run pace
The Twins mashed at least four long balls in a game for the fifth time this season, matching their number of four-homer games from the entire 2018 campaign. The Twins are third in the American League behind only the Mariners and Astros with 64 homers this season, a total they did not reach until June 7 last year.

Eddie Rosario clubbed his AL-leading 13th long ball of the year, while Jonathan Schoop and Cron both hit opposite-field homers in the third inning. Cron also singled three times as part of the sixth four-hit game of his career, and first since Aug. 29, 2018.

“It is a good sign for a lot of guys when they are seeing the ball deep and are putting good swings on balls,” Baldelli said. “Not that we are continually looking to go the other way, but when you are doing it, it’s generally a better sign than it is not.”

The Twins’ 64 homers and .495 slugging percentage are both the highest marks in team history through 35 games.

“That’s really what drives team confidence, is when your offense is putting up six, seven, eight runs every night,” Gibson said. “It really can make up for some pitching woes every now and then. Fortunately, we ended up putting everything together, so it’s been really clicking for us.”