His injury-riddled team needing good health and good help, Twins infielder Edouard Julien provided both in the field and at the plate Wednesday.
The rookie second baseman sparked a 7-1 victory over the Giants with a leadoff home run — his first homer, hit and RBI at Target Field, too — on an afternoon when he threw out a runner at home and had a sacrifice fly.
He started at second base for injured Jorge Polanco and went 2-for-3 in a game first baseman Joey Gallo and star shortstop Carlos Correa also didn't play.
Penciled on the lineup card by manager Rocco Baldelli atop the order, the lefthanded-hitting Julien drove Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani's second pitch to the opposite field, six rows deep into the left-center field bleachers.
Julien now has hit three major league homers, two of them to the opposite field and one each at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park.
"I never really hit home runs before going to college," said Julien, an 18th-round pick in 2019 from Quebec City who hit 17 and 10 homers in two seasons at Auburn, "and in college I started hitting home runs 'oppo.' That has been my power alley. It's part of my approach and I try to stay there."
Julien, 24, has done so in two stints with the Twins this season, comprising 39 at-bats in 13 games. He was recalled from Class AAA St. Paul on Saturday after the team placed Polanco on the 10-day injured list.
"When he barrels the ball, he can lead from any direction, which is super, super encouraging for a young, really talented hitter," Twins bench coach Jayce Tingler said.
Julien spent all last season at Class AA Wichita after lost seasons in 2019 because of an elbow ligament injury and in 2020 because of COVID-19. It took him six games back in the big leagues to hit that third career homer.
"I had to do a better job at the plate, staying through the ball," Julien said after Wednesday's game. "I've been rolling over a lot of stuff and I've been chasing, which I usually did not do in the minors. That's my biggest goal here, to sustain my approach and not try to do too much. That's what I tried to do today and it worked better.
"It felt good. I'm not going to lie. First one at Target Field, I'll remember this one forever."
Said Tingler: "Julien set the tone. Second pitch of the game, you get the home run and that sparked things."
In the second inning, Julien's defense limited the Giants to one run scored after he scooped up a bat-breaking grounder with the Twins' infield playing halfway up and threw out Casey Schmitt trying to score for the second out.
"It was a routine ground ball to me," Julien said. "I tried to throw home and it worked."
Julien's sacrifice fly produced his second RBI for a 3-1 lead in the second inning on a getaway day to Milwaukee for the Giants. The Twins had Thursday off before they start a home weekend series against Toronto, which was Julien's favorite team growing up just one province and 500 miles away.
"I grew up a Blue Jays fan and I still watch them," Julien said. "It feels different now that I'm in the league and I play against them. Going up against a team you've grown up watching and dreaming about playing in the Rogers Centre, it's going to be cool."