The home runs came from throughout the lineup Tuesday night, starting with a leadoff homer by Brian Dozier all the way down to No. 8 hitter Jason Castro. There were a couple of opposite-field shots and a few pitches catapulted where few baseballs travel.
“It’s fun. It’s loud,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “There weren’t too many cheapies.”
The momentum built with each mighty swing, with fans roaring with anticipation when any fly ball headed for the outfield. The Twins kept slugging until they demolished San Diego 16-0, becoming the first major league team to hit a home run in each of the first seven innings.
It was a good night in the wild-card race for the Twins, too. Houston beat the Angels 1-0 to give the Twins a two game lead over Los Angeles with 18 games to play. Texas lost to fall three games behind, where the Rangers are tied with the Royals.
Let’s go over the homers. Dozier’s leadoff blast was his 30th of the season. Jorge Polanco hit a two-run shot in the second. Castro hit a two-run homer in the third. Eddie Rosario hit a two-run blast in the fourth. Castro added a second homer, a solo shot in the fifth, and Eduardo Escobar tried to hit one to First Avenue in the sixth, settling for a 427-foot bomb.
Kennys Vargas, in as a substitute for Joe Mauer, added a three-run missile in the seventh that was estimated at 430 feet.
“Kennys’ was kind of an exclamation point there,” Molitor said.
The Elias Sports Bureau confirmed the home-run streak. And it pointed out that the Twins had never scored in all eight innings of a home game before — before the Twins went down 1-2-3 in the eighth.
Still, it was quite a way to begin a homestand, as the Twins moved two games ahead of the Angels for the second wild-card spot in the American League, after Houston edged Los Angeles 1-0 in Anaheim, Calif., late Tuesday.
It was the second time this month the Twins have scored at least 16 runs in a game. Their 18 hits was the fourth time they have achieved that mark this season. The bottom four hitters in the lineup — Rosario, Robbie Grossman, Castro and Ehire Adrianza — combined to go 9-for-18 with seven RBI and nine runs scored. Castro hit multiple home runs in a game for the fourth time in his career, his first time as a Twin.
Dozier now has consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs, joining Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Gary Gaetti and Justin Morneau in Twins history.
“It feels really good when you see those balls going out every single inning,” Polanco said. “You get happy. You get excited. It was a lot of excitement in the dugout. It was a cool thing to be a part of.”
The seven home runs were the most given up by the Padres this season. Starting pitching Travis Wood (3-6) was knocked out of the game in the third inning after giving up nine earned runs on nine hits, including three home runs.
It allowed Twins righthander Kyle Gibson (10-10) to have the easiest of starts. He happened to be on the mound against the Royals on Sept. 2 when the Twins won 17-0.
He cruised through six shutout innings, giving up four hits while striking out six. He dropped his ERA to a season-low 4.97. Keep in mind that his ERA was 6.31 on July 9.
He was removed after six innings and 74 pitches as Molitor saw an opportunity to rest him for the stretch run.
“The offense got on the board early again,” Gibson said. “Had a similar feel to Kansas City a couple weeks ago.”
Lucky guy, that Gibson.