MINNEAPOLIS -- Amid a hectic day that included a diagnosis for Nelson Cruz’s wrist and the Cleveland Indians pulling into a tie for first place in the division, the Twins smashed their franchise home run record in the sixth inning Friday, Aug. 9.
In a record-breaking season, that was one of many milestones the team has reached, but it certainly won’t be the last. Minnesota headed into Saturday’s game averaging 1.95 per game and, at that rate, would be on pace to break the major league record set by the New York Yankees (267) on Sept. 3 and become the first team to reach 300 in a season on Sept. 20.
“Hopefully we hit a lot more extra-base hits and homers before (the end of the season), and we can look at it when it’s all said and done. But it’s been impressive to watch to this point, and I’d expect to see more of it,” manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Eddie Rosario’s home run, which came after Jason Castro’s blast an inning earlier tied the record set by the 1963 club, was the record-breaking 226th home run of the season.
“I didn’t think about it during the at-bat,” Rosario said. “When I was running, I got to second base and I saw everything and that I broke the home run record. I feel happy. I’m so proud.”
Heading into Saturday, Cruz led the team with 32 home runs, followed by Max Kepler at 31. Five players (Cruz, Kepler, Rosario, Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano) had already broken the 20-home run mark.
Eleven players had hit 11 or more, including Cruz, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Marwin Gonazlez, the team’s four offensive offseason acquisitions.
“You can’t really assume this kind of output, no matter how many home-run hitters you assemble in spring training. But I think we looked at the lineup in the spring and we definitely saw the power, and if everyone could kind of take it up to the next level, something like this was possible. So it’s nice that everything kind of is according to plan with the lineup that we constructed, and it’s been really fun to be a part of,” Cron said.
Hildenberber, Gonsalves start rehab
Trevor Hildenberger (flexor mass strain) and Stephen Gonsalves (stress reaction in elbow/forearm), both with Triple-A Rochester, began rehab assignments in the Gulf Coast League on Saturday.
Gonsalves gave up a home run and struck out one in a scoreless inning on Saturday. Hildenberger threw a scoreless inning, giving up a hit and recording one strikeout.
Gonsalves, who likely would have debuted for the Twins at some point this season, has instead been sidelined by injuries. He pitched in just one game for Rochester before being shut down again. Hildenberger, meanwhile, was placed on the IL on June 17. At the beginning of the season, he was an effective bullpen arm for the Twins before a shaky May led to a demotion.
“We’re probably going to try and take a wait and see approach. See how, one, he’s feeling physically and continuing to progress, and then also watch him throw the ball,” Baldelli said of Hildenberger. “I think we’re looking forward to seeing him get back out there and get going. But also (we) don’t want to put any expectations or pressure on him. We just want to let him get out there on the mound and see how he’s throwing and start there.”
Michael Pineda (triceps strain) threw a bullpen on Saturday. The Twins expect him to travel on their upcoming road trip. They expect Sam Dyson (biceps tendinitis) and Cruz(ruptured ECU tendon) to travel, too. The Twins acquired minor league outfielder Ian Miller from the Mariners for cash considerations. Miller, 27, has yet to make his major league debut. In 106 games with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate this season, he is slashing .269/.351/.449 with 11 home runs and 29 stolen bases. He will report to Rochester.