DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Twins broke the major league record for home runs in a season — before September even started.
Fittingly, it was Mitch Garver who delivered the historic swing. He’d become sort of an unofficial statistician during his team’s pursuit.
“I’ve been tracking them for about a week in the dugout, making announcements,” Garver said. “‘Hey guys, we’re 12 away,’ or, ‘We’re 13 away.’ Something like that. As it went on today, I kept announcing it, making sure everybody knew.”
Garver’s ninth-inning drive capped a sensational night of slugging for Minnesota on Saturday night, giving the Twins 268 home runs on the season — one more than the New York Yankees hit last year. It was the second homer of the game for Garver and the sixth for Minnesota, which still lost 10-7 to the Detroit Tigers.
The Twins couldn’t overcome Detroit’s seven-run third inning, but they certainly kept the pressure on with their prodigious power. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, C.J. Cron and Nelson Cruz also went deep for Minnesota, which also passed the 1997 Seattle Mariners (264 homers) during the game.
The Twins were understandably subdued after losing the game, but they understood the significance of the accomplishment.
“When these home runs start flying — and they’ve been flying since the very beginning — and there have been some games and weeks that are, they’ve been pretty special,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I know that I haven’t seen many runs — any runs, really — that have been like this. And it just hasn’t stopped.”
Ronny Rodriguez hit a pair of two-run homers for the Tigers, who snapped a six-game skid and halted a six-game winning streak by the AL Central-leading Twins. Detroit sent 12 men to the plate in the third.
Matthew Boyd (7-10) allowed five runs and six hits in six innings for Detroit. He struck out 11 with one walk.
Boyd also gave up four home runs. He’s part of the chorus of people who have suggested that the ball is the reason for high homer rates.
“We just throw the balls. That’s it. Can’t do much about what they give you or put in your hand, right?” Boyd said. “This (record) got broke in August this year, so that’s just the way the game is now.”
Martín Perez (9-6) allowed seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Minnesota led 2-1 in the bottom of the third, but with one out, Perez allowed eight straight hitters to reach base. Miguel Cabrera put the Tigers up 3-2 with an RBI double, and Rodriguez followed with a two-run shot.
Victor Reyes had two hits in the inning, including a run-scoring single that made it 8-2.
Garver led off the game with a towering home run to left field, and after the Tigers answered with an unearned run, Kepler put the Twins up 2-1 with his 36th homer of the year.
Only one of Minnesota’s home runs came with anyone on base, a two-run shot by Polanco in the fifth that made it 8-4.
Cruz tied the record in the eighth with a 450-foot home run to the bushes beyond the wall in center.
“I had no idea that that was the homer to tie it,” Cruz said. “I find out later when I was in the dugout.”
Cruz’s homer made it 10-6, and the Twins went on to load the bases that inning, but Jose Cisnero struck out pinch-hitter Luis Arraez to end the threat.
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