Twins blast 8 homers in epic power display

Cron tallies 5 hits; Kepler bruises knee late

May 24th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- The rain in Anaheim stopped, but the Twins’ frenzied storm of home runs carried on.

and each went yard twice, while , , and also added blasts as the Twins smashed eight homers -- seven of them estimated at over 400 feet according to Statcast -- in a 16-7 rout of the Angels in Thursday’s makeup game. With the win, the Twins completed a three-game sweep and a 6-1 West Coast road trip.

“I think it's easy to say that it's pretty amazing,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “You don't see that in baseball pretty often. I know I haven't seen anything like it. Our guys just continually go up there and they don't give at-bats away. They just keep going at it.”

Let’s unpack some of the many meaningful statistics behind the Twins’ power show on Thursday:

8 home runs

The Twins’ franchise record of eight homers in a game was originally set on Aug. 29, 1963, and stood untouched for 55 years before the 2019 Twins reached the mark twice in the span of five weeks.

This Twins team first clubbed eight jacks in a 16-7 blowout of Baltimore on April 20 at Camden Yards, and again tied the record on Thursday, tagging Angels starter Matt Harvey for four homers in his 2 2/3 innings, before adding two apiece off relievers Noe Ramirez and Cody Allen.

“When you looked at our roster in Spring Training, we knew we had a good offense, we knew we were going to be able to score runs, and we knew our pitchers were going to be able to limit other team’s offenses,” Cron said. “It’s all just kind of clicked, and hopefully there’s no stopping.”

Minnesota has hit at least six homers in a game four times this season, while the rest of MLB has combined for three such games -- one each by the Dodgers, Yankees and Cubs. The Twins join the 2005 Rangers as the only teams in Major League history with multiple eight-homer games in a season.

7 home runs of over 400 feet

Seven of the Twins’ eight dingers on Thursday had projected distances of more than 400 feet, setting a new record in the Statcast era (since 2015).

Polanco, 2nd inning: 401 feet

Sano, 7th inning: 403 feet

Kepler, 7th inning: 409 feet

Rosario, 8th inning: 419 feet

Cron, 3rd inning: 426 feet

Sano, 3rd inning: 438 feet

Schoop, 2nd inning: 467 feet

The previous record of six had been attained four times in the Statcast era. The Orioles first accomplished the feat on June 5, 2015, before the Nationals did it twice in 2017, on April 30 and July 27. The Dodgers also tied the record earlier this season, on March 28, against the Diamondbacks.

“That’s kind of our goal as hitters, to get a good pitch to hit and be aggressive,” Cron said. “Today, most of this entire season, we’ve done a good job of hunting our pitches and when we get them, putting good swings on them.”

467 feet on Schoop’s first homer

Schoop’s first big fly, which came on a hanging 80-mph curveball from Harvey, carried well over the left-field bullpens at Angel Stadium and nearly made it to the upper concourse above the left-field bleachers. Statcast estimated the distance at 467 feet -- the Twins’ longest homer of the season, and their longest since a 469-foot blast by Sano on Aug. 18, 2017.

Minnesota’s previous longest homer of the season had also belonged to Schoop, who hit a 465-foot shot against the Astros’ Collin McHugh at Target Field on May 1.

98 team homers in 2019

The Twins have hit a Major League-best 98 homers through their first 49 games, putting them on pace for 324 in the season, which would shatter the single-season record of 266 dingers set by the Yankees last year.

This matches the most homers hit by a team through its first 49 games in baseball history, matching both the 2000 Cardinals and 1999 Mariners. The Twins’ previous high mark for most swats through their first 49 games had been 79 during the 1986 season.

“It’s a really good feeling to be part of this offense,” Cron said. “When you’re hitting like this, it’s contagious, and everyone wants to contribute. And once we start hitting, it kind of piles on like it did today. So it’s been a really fun start.”

5 hits for Cron

Not only did Cron briefly pull into a share of the Twins’ home run lead with his 13th homer of the season to right-center field in the third inning, but he also fell a triple shy of the cycle as he collected the second five-hit game of his career. He followed a second-inning single and a third-inning bash with a single in the fifth, and doubles in the seventh and eighth before lining out in the ninth.

Thursday’s performance marked Cron’s fourth game with at least four hits this May. He his slashing .325/.391/.675 with eight swats this month -- the most he has ever had in a month in his six-year career.

“I’m just trying to, honestly, just keep up with this offense,” Cron said. “It seems like every day, everyone is going deep. It’s fun to be a part of it, and hopefully we can just continue it.”

2 homers for Sano

With his 438-foot shot off Harvey in the third inning and his 403-foot blast in the seventh, Sano went deep twice in a game for the first time since Aug. 18, 2017.

Not only did he show off his well-documented power potential, but he also showed strong discipline as he laid off several breaking pitches early in the game, and worked an eight-pitch at-bat in the seventh before doubling.

“When you lay off those pitches, then you have to find other ways to get guys out,” Baldelli said. “When Miguel does that and you're forced to come in the zone and give him something that he can not just handle, but do damage on, then you're going away from what you want to do."

8-game lead in the American League Central

With the Twins’ blowout win and the Indians’ loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday, Minnesota improved to 17 games above .500 and stretched its lead in the AL Central division to eight games over the Tribe.

The Twins’ eight-game lead through 49 games marks the earliest in a season the Twins have ever held such a large lead in the divisional era (since 1969). The earliest they had previously mounted an eight-game lead had been in 2002, when they were eight games up after 91 games.

The last time the Twins were 17 games over .500 was in 2010, when they finished the season -- the first at Target Field -- at 94-68. The 1930 and ‘70 seasons are the only other years in franchise history that the team has gotten to 17 games over in under 50 games.

"It's way too early to be looking at any big-picture stuff,” Baldelli said. “We just focus on what we're doing each day and just start there. I don't think anyone is thinking ahead in any way, really, in any way. The guys in the clubhouse, and our staff, are just worried about doing our jobs the best we can and preparing each day."

Kepler suffers bruised right knee in wall collision

Kepler, who played center field on Thursday, was removed from the game in the bottom of the ninth inning after colliding with the center-field wall while tracking Brian Goodwin’s solo homer. The Twins later announced that Kepler is day to day with a bruised right knee, but Baldelli said after the game that Kepler is “doing well.”

“After running into a wall like that, it seems like a pretty positive outcome for us,” Baldelli said.