Sano sparkles at plate, in field in Twins' rout

April 25th, 2017

ARLINGTON -- put on a showcase performance at the plate and in the field Tuesday in the Twins' 8-1 victory over the Rangers, hitting a soaring homer that started a huge inning and making some nifty plays at third base.

So which mattered more to the slugger?

"Making those defensive plays," said Sano, who was 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs.

His second-deck homer, estimated at 437 feet, was the play most fans might remember from Sano's night. But the one he and his manager seemed most proud of came on a bunt by speedy Ranger in the first inning.

Sano had been instructed to move back behind third base from a shallower position, and when he did, Gomez dropped a quick bunt down the line. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Sano charged the ball, picked it up barehanded and made an off-balance throw to retire Gomez.

The alert, athletic play prevented the Rangers from having runners on first and second with no outs to start the game.

"The bunt was the highlight for me," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We tried to back him off on a count knowing Gomez's tendencies, and yet Gomez wisely, somehow perfectly saw that he backed up, and he tried to beat him. It's just amazing that a man with that size has that quickness and ability to finish that play."

Sano went on to make a diving stop and perfect throw on a Mike Napoli ground ball to end the fourth inning and rob Texas of another hit. He stole another single from the Rangers in the seventh inning, leaping to grab a line drive.

"The dive shows that he's working on his range, and the line drive was just a reactionary play," Molitor said. "He's been playing good, he's very engaged in the game."

Sano's plate appearances Tuesday consisted of a walk in the first inning, the tape-measure homer and an RBI single in the Twins' seven-run fifth inning, and another single in the eighth.

"He's taking his at-bats night in and night out with passion, and he's getting rewarded and helping us both offensively and defensively," Molitor said.

Sano's homer came on an 0-2 pitch from starter and sailed into the left-field club level at Globe Life Park. In the ballpark's history (since 1994), only 21 homers have hit that second deck. The ball came off Sano's bat at 110 mph and rose 131 feet at its apex.

Molitor called the homer a "no-doubter," and Sano knew it, too, but he didn't stand there and admire it.

"I never watch a ball when I hit it," he said. "Sometimes I see hitters, they hit a ball and try to [show off] and the ball hits the wall and they get a double. So I try to run hard."