ST. PAUL — Max Kepler was the first Twin to reach the milestone, bashing his 30th home run of the season on Aug. 1 against the Marlins.
Over the next seven weeks, four teammates followed. On Tuesday, Sept. 17, with Miguel Sano’s 482-foot blast to center field against the White Sox, the Twins became the first team in major league history to have five players hit 30 home runs in the same season.
It’s one of many home run records the Twins have broken this season, and the team honored the five players — Kepler, Sano, Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario — on Wednesday night, Sept. 18, before their game against the White Sox.
They showed clips of the 30th home run for each — Kepler’s against the Marlins, Cruz’s a couple nights later against the Royals, Garver’s on Sept. 10 against the Nationals, Rosario’s on Sept. 15 against the Indians and Sano’s on Tuesday night — before the players posed around home plate for photos.
“Has that ever happened before?” manager Rocco Baldelli asked Tuesday night. “It’s never happened before. I’m not surprised. We had high expectations. I say that all the time. When we showed up in spring training, we knew our guys were really talented. We knew we had a talented group of players, guys that could do things. Guys that could do big things.”
It’s the sixth straight season Cruz has reached the milestone — and his seventh overall — but it was new territory for his teammates.
Kepler’s career high was 20, set last season. Rosario nearly reached the milestone with 27 in 2017.
Garver hit zero homers in 46 at-bats in 2017, seven in 302 in 2018, and he has 30 in 294 this season.
Sano’s previous high was 28 home runs in 2017. That he has bounced back to hit 30 after a tough 2018 and a delayed start to 2019 due to injury represents a significant achievement for him.
“Last year, I (had) injuries. As soon as I got to the Dominican, I started working and I never stop,” Sano said. “I’m so happy about it. I put a lot of effort every day.”
Sano said Garver told him Monday about the potential for the historic achievement.
“I told him, ‘I need to do it,’ ” Sano said.
The Twins also are the first team to have eight players with 20 or more home runs — C.J. Cron, Jorge Polanco and Jonathan Schoop have all reached that milestone.
They are neck and neck with the Yankees for the most home runs this season. Whichever team finishes first will hold the new record for most team home runs in a season in MLB history, as the two teams both moved past the previous record of 267 home runs earlier in the season.
“We’re all very proud of everything that our players accomplish,” Baldelli said. “When we’re talking in terms of major league records, taking a step back at some point and kind of acknowledging that it’s … very special. … It’s been a historic year.”
Kepler (rhomboid strain) and Cron (thumb) were out of the starting lineup again Wednesday. … Kyle Gibson will start on Thursday against the Royals. Jose Berrios and Martin Perez will start on Saturday and Sunday. The Twins have not named a starter for Friday’s game. … The Twins honored Gibson on the field pregame as the club’s Roberto Clemente Award nominee.