080619.TWINS.SANO
Minnesota Twins pinch hitter Miguel Sano (22) hits a walk off home run in the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Target Field. (Ben Ludeman / USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins have treated most games like batting practice to this point and are on pace to shatter the MLB record for home runs hit by a team in a single season.

And Miguel Sano continued that trend on Monday night at Target Field, stepping to the plate as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning, and blasting a walk-off home run to dead center field to help the Twins earn a dramatic 5-3 win over the Braves.

“There are different ways to look at these things,” manager Rocco Baldelli said of his late game decision. “I think it made sense to send a guy up there that has a chance to really impact the ball and maybe do something like he did.”

Still, that swing from Sano didn’t just come out of nowhere. He had actually been working in the batting cage with assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez throughout the game waiting for his moment.

“When the game got tied, I told Rudy, if nobody does anything, I’m going to take care of it,” Sano said. “When I went out and hit, I was just thinking, one swing, and come back to the dugout.”

That’s exactly what he did, pummeling the pitch from reliever Chris Martin, and sending the announced crowd of 26,722 into a frenzy.

“I was right on the railing and I was the first one over,” said Trevor May, who pitched brilliantly for a couple of innings and got the win. “I’m proud as hell of that guy. We could talk all day about where he’s come this season. Just coming up in big spots like that. He knew exactly what he needed to do to win the game there. He got his pitch, and put a nice easy swing on it.”

As for May, the outing provided him with a shot of confidence after struggling for a prolonged stretch last month. He was excellent out of the bullpen and finished his impressive outing with a strikeout — 98 mph upstairs — and let out a roar as he headed for the dugout.

That roar paled in comparison to how loud the crowd got after Sano blasted his no-doubter over the fence to lift his team to victory. He immediately looked at the dugout after hitting the home run and slowly rounded the bases before being mobbed by his teammates at home plate.

“It was a great game,” Baldelli said. “It took big moments to win that game. I think we can point to many. Obviously, Miggy’s swing is an easy one to point to. For him to go up there cold and go up there and put a swing on the ball like that, it was very nice.”

As dramatic as the finish was, the Twins also showed they can just as easily get it done without leaving the yard.

Just ask Braves rookie phenom Mike Soroka.

He was rolling on this particular night and hadn’t allowed a hit through 3 2/3 innings before things started to get away from him in the blink of an eye. It started with an unlikely infield single from Nelson Cruz, followed by a single to Jorge Polanco, and then another infield single from Marwin Gonzalez. That brought rookie Luis Arraez to the plate and he poked a single to left field to drive in a pair of runs.

Yes, a team that might go down as the best power hitting team of all time managed to string together four consecutive singles to grab hold of the lead.

“Just went out there trying to swing at a good pitch,” Arraez said. “He threw me an outside fastball which is the pitch I like to hit and I just went with it.”

That lead wouldn’t last as first baseman Freddie Freeman blasted a solo home run to left field the following frame, and while Max Kepler smoked a solo home run to dead center field to help the Twins restore their original lead, the bullpen surrendered the lead before May came in to stop the bleeding.

“He pitched us to this win,” Baldelli said. “He’s going out there and facing a tough lineup, going out there for multiple innings and, essentially going out there and going at them with really good stuff and executing. He pitched great. We don’t win the game without his effort.”

That effort simply paved the way for Sano to play hero with a home run. He was sitting next to Cruz and injured teammate Willians Astudillo when he found out he’d be pinch hitting.

“They were saying, ‘You loose?'” Sano said. “And I said, ‘Yeah.'”

He was, and nobody had a better view than Arraez, who was standing on first base when Sano made contact.

Asked whether he knew it was gone, Arraez smiled and respond, “Of course I did.”

TWINS 5, BRAVES 3

Atlanta ab r h rbi bb so avg

Acuña Jr. cf 5 1 2 0 0 3 .291

Albies 2b 5 1 1 1 0 1 .285

Freeman 1b 4 1 2 1 1 1 .303

Donaldson 3b 3 0 2 1 1 0 .262

McCann c 4 0 1 0 0 1 .275

Duvall lf 3 0 0 0 1 1 .368 Joyce dh 4 0 1 0 0 1 .263

Camargo ss 3 0 0 0 1 0 .217

Inciarte cf 3 0 0 0 0 2 .226

Culberson rf 1 0 0 0 0 0 .313

Totals 35 3 9 3 4 10 --

Minnesota ab r h rbi bb so avg

Kepler cf 4 1 1 1 0 1 .266

Polanco ss 4 0 0 0 0 0 .297

Cruz dh 4 1 1 0 0 2 .292

Rosario lf 4 1 1 0 0 1 .286

Gonzalez 3b 4 0 1 0 0 0 .248

Arraez 2b 4 1 2 2 0 0 .356

Adrianza 1b 2 0 0 0 1 0 .260

Sanó ph 1 1 1 2 0 0 .241

Castro c 3 0 1 0 0 0 .254

Cave rf 3 0 0 0 0 1 .191

Odorizzi p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Harper p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Duffey p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

May p 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Totals 33 5 8 5 1 5 --

Atlanta 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 -- 3 9 0

Minnesota 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 2 -- 5 8 1

Atlanta ip h r er bb so np era

Soroka 7 6 3 3 1 3 93 2.45

Melancon 1 0 0 0 0 2 17 3.35

Martin, L (0-3) 0.2 2 2 2 0 0 16 3.40

Minnesota ip h r er bb so np era

Odorizzi 6 5 1 1 3 7 109 3.61

Harper, H (10) 0.2 2 2 1 0 1 19 3.07

Duffey, BS (1) 0.1 1 0 0 0 0 3 3.35

May, W (5-3) 2 1 0 0 1 2 22 3.76

What's your reaction?

0
0
0
0
0