Twins hit 6 HRs vs. Indians: 'Today was huge'

April 28th, 2021

The Minnesota Twins finally caught a break when making hard contact against tough pitches, with six long balls against the Cleveland Indians powering their 10-2 win at Progressive Field on Wednesday.

The first month of the season has been lackluster for the Twins. They didn’t score more than four runs in all but one of their previous eight games, the 13-12 extra-innings loss to the Athletics on April 21.

But they flipped the script on Wednesday by scoring four runs in the first inning alone, all on three home runs -- a leadoff homer by Byron Buxton (who went 5-for-5 and finished a triple shy of the cycle) that was immediately followed by a Josh Donaldson blast, then a two-run shot by Jorge Polanco.

"That was huge. That got us going and got us up. Obviously, we're fired up, we're fighting, man, and it hasn't been going our way,” starting pitcher J.A. Happ (2-0) said. “But today was huge to jump out to that lead and get some quality energy in the dugout, and guys are feeding off that."

The offense came together the day after manager Rocco Baldelli had a team meeting following the 7-4 loss to the Indians, acknowledging their effort in gut-wrenching losses. Baldelli didn’t credit himself as the reason behind Wednesday’s win, rather the players who were ready to go out and turn their luck around.

“Swung the bats really, really well and had really good at-bats from the start. But J.A. Happ also going out there and pitching like that is a great combination,” Baldelli said. “He’s looked really sharp. He looked really comfortable from the start, threw the ball great, got us right towards the end of the game, and it was just a nice ballgame and felt really good to be out there and playing like that.”

Buxton has been heavily relied upon by the Twins during their stretch of low-scoring games. He continued to be the spark from the leadoff spot against the Indians, as he started the four-run first inning with a solo homer to right field on the second pitch of the game.

Mitch Garver launched two homers and drove in three runs in the offensive breakout. Like most of Minnesota’s hitters entering the game, Garver hasn’t provided a lot of production. His last RBI before Wednesday came against the Angels on April 16, and he'd last homered on April 8.

“It's not for lack of effort, and guys are struggling a little bit. The work is being put in, and to see him come out with those two big ones today, I know that had to feel good,” Happ said. “I looked over and said, 'How did that feel?' and he was saying, 'Pretty dang good.' He keeps it pretty close to the chest, but I know he was happy about that.”

Willians Astudillo joined the slugfest with a home run of his own in the third inning, parking a slider from Trevor Stephan to left field with an exit velocity of 101.7 mph, per Statcast.

The five hardest-hit balls in the game all belonged to Twins hitters, with Buxton leading the group; his double in the eighth flew off the bat at 112.4 mph.

The six long balls brought flashbacks of the 2019 club that fittingly called itself the “Bomba Squad” en route to breaking home run records and slugging their way to the top of the American League Central.

“No, no. It’s not the Bomba Squad anymore,” Garver said. “We know what that team would do. This team is a little bit more dynamic.”