It’s may seem counter-intuitive to think of it this way, but Major League Baseball has become a game basically featuring just three results – the strikeout, walk and home run. The three outcomes are proliferating again this season with strikeouts and homers on record paces.
A few days ago, we told you the story of the Baltimore Orioles pitching staff which set a major league record by allowing 100 homers in the first 48 games of the season.
Well, if someone is throwing them, someone is hitting them. And no team is blasting away more than the Minnesota Twins. Their games are becoming virtual home run derbies.
On Thursday in Anaheim, the Twins tied a franchise record by hitting eight homers in a 16-7 win over the Los Angeles Angels. Earlier this season, they also hit eight homers in a game at Baltimore.
In doing so, the Twins joined the 2005 Texas Rangers as the only teams in MLB history to have hit at least eight homers in multiple games. And it’s not even June. It was also the third time in franchise history Minnesota homered eight times.
Angels starter Matt Harvey, the former “Dark Knight” of the New York Mets, allowed four of the homers in just 2 2/3 innings. Seven of the eight were measured at more than 400 feet, led by Jonathan Schoop’s 467-foot blast in the second inning.
The eight homers allowed tied the Angels record for most permitted in one game. It had already happened twice, the last time against that 2005 Texas team on which Mark Teixeira, Michael Young and Alfonso Soriano each hit over 40 homers.
“It’s all just kind of clicked and hopefully there’s no stopping,” the Twins C.J.Cron after hitting a homer among his five hits. “When you are hitting like this it is contagious. If you look at this lineup you are going to see a lot of power. We have the ability to do that and it is nice to show it.”
Aside from Cron, Miquel Sano and Schoop hit two home runs each. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario also went yard.
Last season, the New York Yankees, a team one would expect might have tremendous power, set the single-season MLB record by clubbing 267 homers. But as of Friday, the Twins are on pace to shatter that mark. Through their first 49 games, they have hit 98 of them. That’s a pace that would give them 324 this season.
ESPN’s research department tells us the 98 homers are tied for the second-most through the first 50 games in MLB history. The 1999 Mariners, with Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriguez leading the way, hit 102 in year first 50.
The Twins can break that with a big game at home on Friday against the Chicago White Sox. And it’s Joe Mauer Bobble Head day!
“It’s pretty amazing. Our guys continue to go up there and not give up at-bats,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’ve had some games this season where we have hit a lot of homers. It’s not as if our guys go up there swinging for the fences.”
The homers are powering the Twins to a great start in the American League’s Central Division. They’ve already had four games with at least six homers. The other MLB teams have only three combined.
The Twins (33-16) swept the Angels for the first on the road since 1996 to complete a road trip with six wins in seven games. They hit 22 homers on the trip to extend their divisional lead to eight games. They have the best record in the Majors. Six different players, led by Rosario (14), have at least nine homers this season.
“The long balls were killing us. It’s hard, like I’ve said times, to tell where on the plate it is, but they came out swinging,” manager Brad Ausmus said of the Twins.
Here’s what we were saying about the home run: A record 1,144 were hit in March and April (2.62 a game), an increase of 12.2 percent from a year ago. A record 6,105 home runs were hit in 2017, but the game is on pace for nearly 6,500 this season.
It will be interesting to see if the Twins can keep this up. They have not been known as a home run team, even in the Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky days in the 1980s, Baseball prospectus says opponents have hit more homers than the Twins in 26 of the last 27 seasons.