Sano continues to be Twins' clutch slugger

Rookie phenom ties Game 1 loss in seventh with mammoth two-run homer

Sano continues to be Twins' clutch slugger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Most of the time, when a rookie steps to the plate in a big spot, not much is expected. When Twins designated hitter Miguel Sano steps to the plate, big things have almost become habit.

The towering rookie slugger did it again in the bottom of the seventh inning on Saturday in game one of a split doubleheader against the Angels at Target Field. The Twins lost the game, 4-3, in 12 innings, but not before getting a serious jolt from one of the game's brightest young stars.

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With the Twins trailing, 3-1, and not much going offensively, Sano sent a charge through the dugout with a massive two-run blast into the second deck in left-center field, tying the game at 3.

"That was an extremely big situation when you're trailing late and you haven't won a game in a few days," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's been a learning few months for him, but we've seen a lot of nice responses to various scenarios.

With Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney on cruise control through the first five innings, all the Twins offense could muster was a leadoff triple by Eddie Rosario and an RBI single by catcher Kurt Suzuki in the sixth. Joe Mauer led off the seventh with a walk, which gave the Twins the opening they needed. Sano came up and hit the second pitch he saw from Angels reliever Trevor Gott.

In an instant, the game changed completely.

"When you have that caliber of hitter, you're always expecting good things," Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson said. "We would have taken a double there. But he was due. He's been seeing the ball well. When you're attacking the ball like he is, and putting good swings on it, good things are going to happen."

The homer by Sano was his 17th in 65 games played with the Twins this season, to go along with 49 RBIs and a .279 batting average. Later in the game on Saturday, Sano was intentionally walked, the first of many to likely come in the future.

"Sometimes he's going to fail and sometimes he's going to come through. But we know that there is danger there, getting us back in the game with one good swing," Molitor said.

Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.