MINNEAPOLIS (AP)After his fresh start, Gary Sanchez is fitting in just fine with Minnesota.
The two-time All-Star catcher with the laid-back personality hit his first home run for the Twins that was anything but low key.
Sanchez sent a grand slam into the third deck and Byron Buxton had two of Minnesota’s six home runs as the Twins slugged their way past the Seattle Mariners 10-4 on Sunday for their first victory of the season.
”That’s called teamwork,” Sanchez said through a translator.
Carlos Correa launched his first homer for Minnesota, too. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco also went deep for the Twins, whose first 13 runs of the season came by home run for the longest streak in modern major league history. Sanchez ended that run with an RBI double in the seventh.
”It was a fun day at the office, to be able to get our pitches and be able to drive it,” Correa said. ”That’s always a great sign. We know we’re going to hit, right? It was just a matter of time.”
The Twins totaled eight hits over 2-1 and 4-3 defeats on Friday and Saturday.
”Not quite as fun today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. ”They’re a good team. They’ve got a heck of a lineup and have certainly got all kinds of power.”
Bailey Ober logged five innings for the win, handed more than enough cushion to withstand a three-run homer in the third by Mitch Haniger.
Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales gave up three homers, just as he did in his first start of 2021, and lasted only two innings. Four of the six runs against Gonzales were unearned, thanks to a two-out fielding error in the first inning by second baseman Adam Frazier.
Gio Urshela had to hop out of the way of the grounder as he hustled from first to second, creating a potential distraction for Frazier as he positioned himself for the ball in the shadow in shallow right field. Then Sanchez, who came to the Twins with Urshela last month in the trade that sent Josh Donaldson to the Yankees, crushed a 2-2 changeup from Gonzales an estimated 446 feet into the highest seats above left field for a 5-0 lead.
Sanchez watched the ball soar for a second before tossing his bat and flipping a casual thumbs-up toward his dugout as he started his jog around the bases.
”I hope I see a whole bunch of thumbs-ups from him,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. ”It was something I think he’s been waiting for, too. I think he’s enjoying it here.”
Correa, the headliner acquisition of a bold and busy March in Minnesota’s front office, managed to outdistance Sanchez with a solo shot to the third deck in the sixth.
According to MLB’s Statcast data, Correa’s homer traveled 458 feet with an exit speed off the bat of 113 mph. That was the second-hardest-hit home run of his career on record, a fraction slower than one he hit for Houston six years ago.
It was the first time since Aug. 2, 2019, that the Mariners allowed six home runs in a game, two short of the franchise record. Correa homered for the Astros in that game, too.
Derided in New York for his substandard defense at catcher, Sanchez made an important play in the top of the first. He deftly blocked the plate with his left leg to keep Jesse Winker from scoring on Haniger’s double, ending the inning after the spot-on relay throw from Correa at shortstop.
”I was pretty amped up right there,” Ober said. ”It was a big-time play.”
THE BUCK DOESN’T STOP
Before all the trades and signings the Twins made last month, they logged their most impactful transaction with a seven-year, $100 million contract for Buxton, their prized center fielder whose enviable skills have only been slowed by injuries. After hitting a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning on Saturday, Buxton went deep in his first two at-bats against Gonzales on Sunday.
It was Buxton’s fifth career multi-homer game. Both of them were line drives after way-inside pitches that weren’t too far in for his fastball-killing swing to muscle them over the left-field wall.
”He’s a good player. Can’t seem to figure him out right now,” Gonzales said.
The early-season 28-man roster limit gave Servais the rare opportunity to start three different catchers in the first three games. Luis Torrens was crouched behind the plate on Sunday, after Cal Raleigh and Tom Murphy took the first two turns.
The Mariners send RHP Chris Flexen to the mound Monday night to finish the four-game series, and RHP Dylan Bundy makes his debut for the Twins.
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