Nunez delivers inside-the-park HR for Twins

Infielder's unusual homer is first by Minnesota player at Target Field

Nunez delivers inside-the-park HR for Twins

MINNEAPOLIS -- After going homerless in their three-game sweep at the hands of the A's, the Twins homered in a hurry against the Rays in a 6-4 win on Thursday night, and it came in an unconventional way.

Eduardo Nunez led off the first inning with an inside-the-park home run against Rays lefty Matt Moore to give the Twins an early lead. It was the first inside-the-park homer for a Twins player in Target Field history and the first of Nunez's career. It was also the 50th inside-the-park homer in franchise history, and the first since Kurt Suzuki hit one on May 20, 2014, in San Diego.

"I never thought about the homer," Nunez said. "I was looking for third all the way. If you look at the video, I was slowing down. But when I saw [third-base coach Gene Glynn], I thought, 'Oh my God. I need to get going.' But I never thought about it being a homer."

Nunez added he couldn't help but break out into a big smile as he slid headfirst into home because it was his first career inside-the-park homer at any level, including when he was a kid.

060216 MIN Nunez slide

"I thought, 'I made it!'" Nunez said. "I was just so tired, I didn't want to run anymore at that point."

Nunez's inside-the-parker came on an 0-1 fastball from Moore and right fielder Brandon Guyer couldn't handle the deep drive to right, as it went off his glove while Nunez raced around the bases and scored easily. Nunez ran the bases in 15.23 seconds, which was the fastest time this season, per Statcast™. Miami's Dee Gordon holds the record for fastest time around the bases in the Statcast™ era at 14.24 seconds. Statcast™ also had the ball leaving Nunez's bat at 94 mph.

When told of his time around the bases, Nunez said he might've beat Gordon's record if he ran hard all the way.

"If I didn't slow down, then maybe," Nunez said with a smile.

It was the sixth homer of the year for Nunez and his second career leadoff homer. It was also the first time in Minnesota history a Twins player opened the first with an inside-the-parker. The last to do it in franchise history was the Senators' Al Kozar on July 26, 1949. And the last to do it in the Majors was Eric Young Jr. on Aug. 8, 2012.

"It's an uncommon play in the game and those things are exciting, especially when you can begin a ballgame like that," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You saw the guy going back and he had to deal with the overhang, and the sun was still probably a factor. It ricocheted into the corner and luckily one of our fast guys hit it."

Rays manager Kevin Cash had a different take on the play, as he thought it should've been ruled an error on Guyer.

"The play in the first, that's an error," Cash said. "Nothing on Brandon Guyer, he's grinding it out, but that's an error. He's got to make that play."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.