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Twins break Yankees' single-season HR mark

With a month left to go, Minnesota has a chance to reset the bar at 300
@dohyoungpark
September 1, 2019

DETROIT -- Mitch Garver had been counting down the long balls and making announcements for around a week in the Twins’ dugout as the Bomba Squad closed in on the all-time mark for homers in a season. “Hey, guys, we’re 12 away,” he would say, noting the Twins’ rapid approach

DETROIT -- Mitch Garver had been counting down the long balls and making announcements for around a week in the Twins’ dugout as the Bomba Squad closed in on the all-time mark for homers in a season.

“Hey, guys, we’re 12 away,” he would say, noting the Twins’ rapid approach to the record.

Garver himself completed the countdown when he crushed a first-pitch fastball by Tigers closer Joe Jimenez an estimated 402 feet into the left-field seats at Comerica Park on Saturday night for the 268th homer of the season by the 2019 Twins, capping a six-homer effort by Minnesota’s deep stable of sluggers in a 10-7 loss to Detroit that boosted them past the ’18 Yankees for the MLB single-season record.

Box score

When the Twins’ catcher jogged back into the dugout following his record-breaking home run trot, he had no more counting down to offer -- only congratulations all around, to his teammates and staff, for the mark they collectively made in baseball’s record books.

“There were a lot of people that were a part of this,” Garver said. “There's guys, whether it be two homers or seven or 20 or 30, or whatever it might be, everybody's got a part in this. So it's pretty cool for us."

MLB's most prolific home run-hitting teams

Most homers in a single season in MLB history:
1. 2019 Twins: 268
2. 2018 Yankees: 267
3. 1997 Mariners: 264
4. 2005 Rangers: 260
T-5. 2010 Blue Jays: 257
T-5. 1996 Orioles: 257

The Twins entered the game with 262 homers, but the balls began flying over the fence early, as Garver opened the game with his third career leadoff roundtripper before Max Kepler went deep in the second, Jorge Polanco followed suit in the fifth, C.J. Cron powered one to the opposite field in the sixth and Nelson Cruz tied the record in the eighth with a 450-foot rocket over the center-field wall.

Garver’s historic swing in the ninth capped the Twins’ 11th game this season with five or more homers, which, of course, extended their own Major League record in that category.

“We shook hands,” Kepler said after the game. “We patted each other on the back and said, 'Good job.' At the end of the day, we’re trying to get a W. It's a huge accomplishment. We are all honored to be a part of this. But the W is more valuable than what we did."

Kepler makes a good point.

It did put a damper on the feat for the Twins that the record was accomplished in a game that Minnesota lost to the last-place Tigers in the thick of a pennant race. That bittersweet element was a common undercurrent when the team spoke to the media after the game.

Eddie Rosario wasn’t a member of the home run party on Saturday, but he did pull together his teammates in the clubhouse and gave a speech, encouraging them to look past the loss to enjoy the uniqueness of the feat.

“I wasn't thinking about the loss, because really, you don't see this every year,” Rosario said. “You don't know if it will happen again or if this team will do it again. That's possible, [but] you're not sure it'll happen again. I wanted to make sure everybody was happy for doing that, for breaking the homer record."

“I know that I haven't seen many runs, any runs, really, that have been like this,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That has just continued and guys get hot and teams get hot for a week or a couple of weeks. To do it for five straight months at that pace, it is special, it really is."

In fact, it was the most significant team effort in baseball history.

Four innings before Garver’s record-tying blast, Polanco had claimed another record when he launched a two-run shot into the left-field bleachers for his 20th of 2019. That made him the eighth Twins hitter with 20 or more homers this season, moving the club past the mark of seven that had been held by seven teams, most recently by the 2018 Dodgers.

“I've known a lot of those guys over there,” said Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire, who managed the Twins until 2014. “They grew up swinging, and they're still swinging, and they added some big people in their lineup, which is a really tough baseball team.”

"[I’ve seen] nothing like this,” said Cruz, a veteran of 15 Major League seasons. “This is remarkable. To be able to do it on a consistent basis, a daily basis, and it's not only one guy. It's the whole group. We've gotten it done.”

With 27 games to go, the only question that remains is how many home runs will the Twins hit before they’re finally done with their onslaught.

"It's still August and they set the record, right?” said Tigers starter Matthew Boyd, who allowed four of the homers. “It's kind of crazy. It's, um, yeah. It's good for them.”

The Twins are averaging 1.99 homers per game, putting them on pace for 322 by the end of the regular season. At this rate, they would become the first club in history to eclipse the 300-homer mark during their final homestand at Target Field.

They might not be counting down as hard toward that, as there was a sense of relief that the chase was finally over and the team's full focus could return to holding off the Indians in the American League Central to bring playoff baseball back to Target Field for the first time since 2010.

“I guess it's over,” Cruz said. “We don't have to answer more questions about it, and [we can] just focus on playing the game."

“It was going to happen at some point,” Garver said. “It was just a matter of when. Now we can kind of get over it and get back to playing some ball."

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