Sano’s ninth inning home run gives Twins win over Braves

Brian Hall Associated Press
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
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Atlanta Braves’ Ozzie Albies, right, throws to first base after grabbing a ball hit by Minnesota Twins’ Nelson Cruz during the fourth inning of a baseball game Monday in Minneapolis.

After sitting four powerful right-handed bats against Atlanta All-Star starter Mike Soroka, Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli had plenty of pinch-hitting options late in another close game against a likely playoff team.

Baldelli chose wisely with the surging Miguel Sanó and Minnesota came up with another meaningful win.

Sanó’s pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning gave Minnesota a 5-3 victory over the Braves on Monday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The home run came after working with assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez inside during the game.

“I felt when the game got tied, I told Rudy, if nobody does anything, I’m going to take care of it,” Sanó said. “When you’ve got something in your heart and you feel it, that’s one of the biggest things. When I went out and hit, I was just thinking, one swing and come back to the dugout. It’s unbelievable.”

With Mitch Garver, C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop all available, Sanó entered and hit the first pitch he saw for his 19th home run of the season and the first pinch-hit, walk-off home run for the Twins since Michael Cuddyer against the Los Angeles Angels in 2006 at the Metrodome.

Sanó’s homer went an estimated 443 feet off reliever Chris Martin, hitting high off the wall in center field. Martin (0-3) was making his second appearance for Atlanta since being acquired at the trade deadline. He got two quick outs before allowing a single to Luis Arraez in front of Sanó.

“He’s got long arms,” Martin said. “He’s got leverage. I’ve faced him a lot. I kind of attack him the same way every time. I think he finally figured it out and he got good wood on it.”

Trevor May (5-3) pitched two innings with one hit allowed for the Twins, who have won four in a row to stretch their lead over Cleveland in the AL Central to four games. They’ve won nine of their past 11 games.

The Braves have lost three of four and are 12-11 since the All-Star break.

“It’s just been some tough games late,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. “Well-played, just having a hard time bunching anything to get a really big inning going or something like that. It’s kind of what we need to get us off the mat a little bit.”

Freddie Freeman hit his 27th homer for the Braves.

Max Kepler followed with his 31st homer. Kepler has eight home runs in his past 15 games.